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The Hot Springs School Board continued to work towards reaching their goal to cut $422,000 from the districts budget for next year. 

The board voted unanimously to fund the soccer program as a junior varsity sport for the 2018-2019 school year. The decision cuts down the cost of the program compared to funding a varsity team. One key effect of the change to junior varsity status is Hot Springs will be ineligible to participate in the varsity playoffs. 

The board also accepted the resignation of a full time elementary school teacher as well as a lead custodian. 

While the board is making progress towards the proposed budget cut target, some of their work thus far could be deemed invalid

A formal complaint was filled with the Fall River State's Attorney Office last Wednesday, alleging the Hot Springs School Board violated open meeting law in its March meeting. 

Four of the seven alleged violations in the complaint were referred to the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission for review. The four sent to the commission specifically deal with South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 1-25-2, which explains the accepted use of executive session in public meetings. 

The law states executive session can be used to discuss the performance or competence of staff, sensitive student information regarding discipline, education or extracurriculars of individual students, legal council, contract negotiations and pricing strategies for businesses owned by the state.

Issues not qualifying for executive session must be discussed in open meetings.  

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The complaint alleges during the March 12 meeting, executive session was used improperly by the Hot Springs School Board to discuss the cutting of programs and positions, not personnel performance. 

A high school Spanish teaching position and librarian position were eliminated along with the reduction of two counseling positions to half time. 

An affidavit signed by one of the staff members effected by the cuts also asserts they were not informed their performance was under review. 

The three alleged violations not submitted to the Open Meetings Commission will stay under the jurisdiction of the Fall River State's Attorney Office. Those allegations include the discussion of cutting the soccer program in executive session, improper notice on the agenda of March 12 of the appointment of a new school board member and the release of information discussed during executive session by a school board member. 

If the board is found to have violated open meetings laws, actions taken during the meeting on March 28 could be deemed void. 

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