A smoke-out attempt didn’t save a bill creating a new school system in South Dakota, which had previously been defeated in committee.
Senate Bill 66, which creates and funds Oceti Sakowin community-based schools, was defeated by the House Education committee on a 9-5 vote with a smoke-out attempt being unsuccessful on the House floor following the committee’s decision.
SB 66 would have allowed the proposed school to seek sponsorship with a school district, enter into a contract specifying further details and add the school to the state aid fall enrollment count with the sponsoring school district responsible for providing most other services.
The bill also called for the state Board of Education Standards to promulgate many different rules related to the Oceti Sakowin community-based school, including what can be done if a district denies an application.
ASBSD opposed the bill due to concerns with the governance structure, the funding model and the unknown implications that could be included in the rule promulgation process.
ASBSD Executive Director Wade Pogany told House Education committee members “there is potential that this bill could force” school districts into sponsoring the community-based school because there’s nothing in the legislation that addresses “what happens if a school board says ‘no.’”
Proponents of SB 66 said it would bring in all stakeholders – from the public school and the group proposing the community-based school – to collaborate on the contract establishing the school.
Oglala Lakota County School District would have been among the districts where a community-based school could be placed, but School Board President Laticia Decory, Superintendent Anthony Fairbanks and Curriculum Coordinator Connie Kaltenbach testified in opposition of the bill.
“I’m supposed to make decision based on what’s best for our county,” Decory testified. “Is (SB 66) the best thing for our schools? No, it’s not.”
Decory went on to say she had many “questions that I would like to see answered” about the bill and community-based school, but the district was not included in the development of the proposal.
“We were never consulted on this,” Decory told committee members. “We should have been at the table.”
Rep. Timothy Johns surmised the legislature did not “have the authority to” move forward with the legislation because it’s “mandating that (school boards) accept an application.”
“We’re interfering with their discretion,” Rep. Johns said.
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