Mock Dorm Burns In Minutes

Aug 30, 2015
Charles Michael Ray

September is Campus Fire Safety Month in South Dakota.   The idea is to raise awareness about the potential for fire in college dorms, Greek housing, and off campus apartments.

The Rapid City Fire Department held a demonstration at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to show students the danger of structure fire.

The department set up a steel trailer with side by side rooms.  Both rooms were filled furniture and then set on fire.

Tim Behlings is an Assistant Chief at the Rapid City Fire Department.   

South Dakota schools have a waiver from No Child Left Behind but it lasts for just one year, and federal officials have put the state on high risk status.

South Dakota’s first waiver from NCLB lasted for three years. The latest exemption applies for only one year – and it’s happening because of teacher evaluations.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Members of a state task force are setting priorities to address elder abuse in South Dakota. The group met Tuesday in Sioux Falls. Task force members are trying to figure out how to prevent and punish abuse of aging populations.

The Elder Abuse Task Force is investigating the scope of elder abuse in South Dakota, and members may offer reports and policy suggestions based on what they find.

Parents are expected to pay more this year in school supplies and activities fees. The Backpack Index released by Huntington Bank averages families will spend more than $1,000 dollars preparing two students for school. 

The Banquet in Sioux Falls serves free meals each day. But throughout the year volunteers collect and sort school supplies in the store room behind the kitchen.  Next week more than 6,000 kids will pick out a backpack complete with everything on their school supply list.

Grant Money For Innovation

Aug 14, 2015

Amy Scott Stolz, Sioux Falls Education Foundation Board Chair, and Twaine Fink, principal at Whittier Middle School in Sioux Falls, discussed the decision to increase more innovation in the classroom by increasing grant money for new ideas.  The Board agreed to raise the grants from $1500 to $10,000.  The guests explained how the increase will affect students.

SD Board of Regents

During its annual planning meeting in Pierre this week, the South Dakota Board of Regents asked Governor Dennis Daugaard to make a tuition freeze for resident students the highest priority for the next fiscal year. The goal is to bring the funding ratio from student and government back to 50/50 over three years. Governor Daugaard's support two years ago led lawmakers to approve a freeze during the 2014 session. A similar request was made last year, but wasn’t recommended by the governor or considered by the state legislature.

A new book for children tells the story of how the gift of a cow changes the life of a young African boy’s family. The story is told from two perspectives. A Moo For You, is the boy’s take on the story. The other, All That A Moo Can Do, comes from the cow’s perspective.

University of South Dakota

The University of South Dakota’s School of Education has a new dean. Donald Easton-Brooks has been on the job for a month. He comes to Vermillion from Eastern Oregon University, where he served as professor and dean of the Colleges of Business and Education for two years.

40 High School graduates have received scholarships to pursue high demand occupations in South Dakota. The Dakota Corps Scholarship program is covering the cost of tuition and fees for students studying to become teachers, accountants, registered nurses, and IT specialists, among other jobs. South Dakota officials are hoping the scholarship will keep the best students in the state. 

The US Senate is debating the Every Child Achieves Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. Senator Mike Rounds hopes an amendment to the measure helps improve the quality of education in Indian Country.

State of South Dakota

Leaders are examining how South Dakota can improve public education. Tuesday lawmakers and education stakeholders on the Blue Ribbon Task Force met in Pierre to review the ways tax dollars fuel education and how the state compares to its neighbors when funding schools and teachers.

South Dakota has an issue with teacher salaries. That’s the position of a senior analyst with the Education Commission of the States.

Photo by Jim Kent

Over the 240 years since American colonists first took up arms against the British Empire on Lexington Green, the branches of the military and their various uniforms have played an important role in our country’s history. SDPB’s Jim Kent recently visited a military uniform display at the 1881 Courthouse Museum in Custer to explore that history and the changes in how our servicemen – and women – dress…both on the front lines and off.

Sioux Falls School District

Tuesday is the last day on the job for Sioux Falls superintendent Pam Homan. She’s retiring after 11 years leading the district. Kearney, Nebraska public schools superintendent Brian Maher replaces her in July.

People from South Dakota are gearing up for the National Education Association’s annual meeting and assembly. This week a group of teachers, education supporters, students, and retired teachers travel to Orlando, Florida. They hope to gain insights from fellow educators from all over the country.

Leaders of the South Dakota Education Association say they fight for every single student to have the opportunity for strong, comprehensive education – both at the state level and nationally.

Mitchell Hosts Annual Spider Conference

Jun 18, 2015
Brian Patrick

Spider lovers from across the world are meeting in Mitchell this weekend for the 39th annual convention of the American Arachnological Society. Scientists will explore the South Dakota ecosystem and share research.

The spider enthusiasts are meeting at Dakota Wesleyan University. Dr. Brian Patrick is an assistant professor of biology. He says he offered to host the conference in Mitchell as the surrounding prairie offers intriguing possibilities for research.

The federal government has awarded a $218,000 grant to the Pine Ridge School for suicide prevention.
Bill Mendoza is with the U.S. Department of Education.  He says the grant money will help restore a learning environment at the school.

Understanding Illiteracy Through Photographs

Jun 17, 2015
REACH Literacy

Reading advocates in Sioux Falls say 15,000 people in the city don't have basic reading skills. Now Reach Literacy is releasing a new book that tells the story of adults who are able to read for the first time.

A new photo series called Journey to Literacy presents the stories of 20 adults learning to read. Paige Carda is executive director of Reach Literacy. She says she started the project more than a year ago.

The Oglala Lakota College is receiving a grant of $25,000 from a tribe in Minnesota. The grant money will fund the Lakota immersion school for kindergarten through fifth grade students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leaders want to prevent the loss of the Lakota language.

The Shakopee Native American tribe in Minnesota is helping fund the Lakota language program. The grant will allow around 30 children to learn their native language at the childcare facility.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

State lawmakers on the appropriations committee are rearranging how they want one million dollars distributed to South Dakota Tech schools. Wednesday afternoon members of the Joint Appropriations committee met in Sioux Falls. They heard from education leaders and voted to change an earlier decision.

Lakota Scholar Offers Advice To Native Youth

Jun 10, 2015
Courtesy Shaina Johnson

Shaina Johnson grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Always a good student, she qualified for a Gates Scholarship in high school. And though she wandered a bit while finding her career path, Shaina says she always saw her future in medicine. Along the way, she pursued a variety of interests and always succeeded. Among her secrets to success: realizing just how unique her Lakota and reservation background makes her.

Hear the complete interview with Shaina Johnson by SDPB's Jim Kent. 

Related story:

Courtesy Black Hills State University

A young Lakota woman has just begun a summer internship with the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. The Black Hills State University senior was one of just 36 students chosen from a field of 900 to attend three Center for Disease Control-funded programs. 

Shaina Johnson grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Always a good student, she qualified for a Gates Scholarship in high school.

And though she wandered a bit while finding her career path, Shaina says she always saw her future in medicine 

Sanford Harmony Program

The Sanford Harmony Program is a research-based project designed to help improve how boys and girls think about and treat each other. The idea is that by facilitating harmonious relationships between boys and girls at a young age, the learning environment will improve and set the stage for positive relationships throughout a lifetime.

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

During the 2015 legislative session, Governor Dennis Daugaard announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students to explore teacher pay and education funding.

Blue Ribbon Task Force Hears Concerns

Jun 4, 2015

A Blue Ribbon Task Force set up by Governor Dennis Daugaard is now holding a series of public meetings across the state to hear concerns from educators, business leaders, and the public.

The Task Force is examining teacher pay and education funding in the state and will come back with recommendations to the state legislature.   State Senator Deb Soholt is a co-chair of the task force.   She says public input is vital part of the process.

Pine Ridge Student Named Truman Scholar

Jun 4, 2015
Courtesy CinMag Photography

A Villanova University junior who hails from the Pine Ridge Reservation has been selected as one of 58 recipients of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The accolade is the latest in a string of scholarships that have helped the young Oglala Sioux tribal member pursue his educational goals.

A grant worth more than $12,000 is helping an area organization that empowers women. Dress for Success Sioux Falls is preparing to host an eight-week program that helps women who are unemployed or underemployed prepare for career opportunities.

Dress for Success is known globally for its mission to provide women who are economically disadvantaged professional attire so they are physically prepared for the job search. But Lori Strasburg says people don’t always realize the program is about more than blazers and dress pants.

Rapid City Opt-Out Fails

Jun 3, 2015
Chynna Lockett / SDPB

Rapid City voters turned down a measure to opt-out of the state’s property tax freeze. The plan would have increased property taxes and given more money to local schools.
Voters turned down the opt-out 58 to 42 percent.    
But, those on both sides of the issue now say more work can be done to help education funding in the future.

You can hear the rest of this story by clicking play below.

On Tuesday, June 2nd for the first time ever,  Rapid City voters consider opting out of the state’s property tax reduction plan.   
The opt out would increase property taxes by about $6 each month per $100-thousand of valuation.
The extra money raised goes to local schools.   Many of those backing the opt out say schools are in dire need of funding.  But many those against it don’t like the idea of higher taxes.

Rapid City Teachers Hit Impasse With Administrators

May 15, 2015
Chynna Lockett / SDPB

The Teachers Union in Rapid City has come to an impasse in salary negations with the School District.

Rapid City voters consider opting-out of the property tax freeze in a special June 2nd election.  The extra money would go to schools.  
Teachers don’t agree with the district’s plan if the opt out fails.  Administrators say teachers walked away from negations too soon. 

Click play below to hear the rest of the story.

Chynna Lockett

After 5 years with the Rapid City Area School District, Superintendent Dr. Tim Mitchell announced his resignation at a press conference on Tuesday morning. His resignation is effective June 30, 2016, following the 2015-2016 school year.