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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dell Rapids Voters: No Means No; Second Bond Issue Defeated

Despite KELO's best efforts to promote it, the Dell Rapids school district $17.3-million bond issue failed at the polls yesterday. The vote was 867 in favor, 851 against, a slim 50.5% majority, but still short of the required 60%. The "for" vote declined from the first go-round in May, when a $16 million bond issue got support from 52% of voters.

I suggested back in June that maybe the board would do well to accept the expressed will of the people, disagreeable as it may be, rather than putting faith in a bigger marketing campaign to swing a few more voters. But while the ballots are still warm from the auditor's hands, Superintendent Tom Ludens says the board will bring this issue back again.

Is that really such a good idea, Superintendent Ludens? Your second campaign resulted in a loss of support. At this rate, the third vote might result is a majority voting against the bond issue.

I'm not one to criticize a guy for not giving up the fight. I admire a guy who holds to his principles even when the majority disagree with him. But here's today's open question: as a public servant, is it the superintendent's job to continue trying to change public opinion or to accept the twice-expressed will of the taxpayers?


  1. Maybe Dell Rapids should get their new building through capital outlay certificates. It worked for Madison.

  2. It appears you may be a bit confused. A superintendent is not a "public servant." He/she is not elected, he/she is HIRED by elected officials (the School Board). He/she is responsible to the people who hired him/her, NOT to the general public. If the School Board tells the Superintendent to "try it again," he/she has two choices: do it or quit.

  3. Not to quibble too hard, but I always considered myself a public servant when I taught in the public K-12 system. Sure, teachers and administrators are hired by the board, not a direct vote of the people, but they still serve the public, just like all the folks who work in the courthouse who are hired by the county commission.

    And sure, the school board decides, the superintendent executes. But that order is sometimes reversed, as folks in Madison can well attest from the John Sweet regime. ;-)

  4. The role of the superintendent, as the chief executive officer of the school board, is to not only administer (not execute) the policies of the school board but to make recommendations regarding "the appointment and termination of all personnel." Not a pleasant task, but one that needs to be performed from time to time when school personnel misbehave. The role hasn't changed since "the John Sweet regime." See the role of the superintendent on the district's website http://www.madison.k12.sd.us/superintendent/Role%20of%20the%20superintendent.htm that was first posted during that regime. :)

  5. SuperSweet: !!!

    O.K., now I'm genuinely curious: I take it from your parentheses that "administer" and "execute" are nt the same thing. Can you flesh that difference out for us? (No rush -- I recognize you do have a school district to administer!)

  6. Yes, I administer the school district. I do not execute it. School administrators are known as that, administrators. Not executioners. And we are not often referred to as executives either. We may need to seek the advice of an English teacher here...what we really need is a former English teacher who is now a school administrator! I might know some if I think about it.

  7. Hey, honest, I'm not playing on that grimmer definition of execute. Here I'm just thinking of the superintendent as the "chief executive officer" of the school district, the officer in charge of carrying out the policies set by the board. I mean "execute" purely in that sense, as the Madison Central district policy manual appears to use it as well.


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