Letters to the editor, Sept. 10, 2021
The board must do better
The School Board meeting on Tuesday September 8th made something apparent in the most disturbing way. Kate Thomas and Jim Hanson will go above and beyond to suppress the voice of stakeholders in RCAS. By moving the rest of the open forum to the end of the meeting, they effectively used parliamentary procedure to silence your voices. To say your experiences and your knowledge do not matter.
Kate sits on that stage and looks down on the rest of you demanding respect, demanding decorum, while at the same time shooting off smart remarks to Amy Policky and Dr. Simon. I say if you want respect you need to model respect. Hear people out. Allow the parents, students, teachers, and community to provide input before taking a vote. And God forbid treat the other board members with dignity in the process.
What occurred at that School Board meeting was an affront to every red-blooded American who values our Constitution. We The People will be heard, We The People will be valued, and We The People will not be silenced. To Clay and Amy, I send my sincerest gratitude for your continued commitment to this community.
This board must do better!
Fred Meyer, Rapid City
I wish to thank the caring people that approached me at the school board meeting. There are some really wonderful, caring individuals in Rapid City. I am not a public speaker and I wanted to let the school board know my concerns not based on politics but based on my family.
There was a horrible nasty man that spoke after me and really made me feel personally attacked and uncomfortable to the point that it was really upsetting to me, especially after I shared about my families health concerns.
I left upset and so many people came and hugged me and gave me support that a negative really turned into a positive. So thank you one and all for being a bright spot to my dark day.
Lisa Knigge, Rapid City
Cancel culture coming to the school board
As a career military officer sworn to defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic, I have been appalled by the attempts to silence voices of doctors, nurses and other citizens who are against the masking of our kids in school. The 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of expression to all citizens, and threats, intimidation, nasty Facebook posts directed to school board members and others who voice opposition to masking have NO place in a civil society. In fact the RCAS conduct matrix for students clearly defines cyber bullying: "...use of electronic communications to harass, tease, threaten...or sending or posting inappropriate and/or hurtful emails, instant messages, texts, pictures or images". SD statute 49-31-31 list threats or harassment by electronic means as a Class 1 misdemeanor, with 1 yr in jail. What's so sad is that it appears the parents and some teachers of our students need a conduct matrix so they can learn how to act civilly towards others with different opinions! Clearly the cancel culture is trying to force its way into our school board meetings, but I as a retired vet, will not let them impose their Gestapo efforts in our community.
Eduardo Manzano, Rapid City
Education and health are inseparable
The RCAS Board has doubled down on the policy that they are in the business of education and not health care. If the members of the Board respect their employees and heard the message that those speaking at the meeting Tuesday night expressed, I think they would have to admit that during a pandemic the two things are intertwined. The teachers and administrator who took the time away from family to speak at the end of the meeting last night had one message.
There is little education taking place in buildings where the absentee rate of both teachers and students is high. There are not enough substitutes cover the missing staff. When secretaries are called in to sub they are babysitting not teaching. When a teacher must cover a colleague's class during planning or lunch that teacher has lost time to prepare for his or her own class. If the Board wants in-school learning to take place, it needs to listen to its employees. It's time to reinstate masks and safety procedures during this difficult time. Education and health practices are inseparable during a pandemic.
Stefani Braun, Rapid City
The school board has four basic responsibilities: create a strategic plan, approve a budget, develop and implement policies/procedures, listen and respond to constituent concerns. The most effective boards work behind the scenes to support faculty and staff, providing community oversight. The educational professionals, the unelected bureaucrats, by design, put into place the board’s strategic plan. If a board has a separate agenda, if it fails to follow established protocol, the consequences can be comical and tragic.
Witness the most recent school board meeting. The board, because of the president’s inexperience and bias, has lost sight of its purpose. The board is supposed to be nonpartisan. This is difficult when board members don’t understand what it means to be impartial. There are other fundamental semantic misunderstandings—personal attack, freedom of speech, quarantine, to name a few. The public comment portion of meetings is dysfunctional group therapy, offering no insight or progress.
This leads to the real issue: elections. The current board’s display of incompetence could have been prevented if more civic-minded people would have voted. A vocal, inept minority has finagled its way into power, and we are all to blame. We got the uninformed, ideologically driven board of education we deserve.
Jackie Swanson, Hermosa
Why not pay off debt?
With all the folks asking to spend our so called surplus on pet projects or give raises to different local groups, I have not heard anyone say "lets pay down our considerable arena debt."
I know a few millions will not pay it off but it would be the fiscally responsible thing to do. The civic center has and will continue to cost us plenty.
I believe that the same old tax and spend mentality(republican or democrat)is always a popular topic to banter back and forth at election time but what about some real action when it counts? We have the opportunity to really put ourselves forward as responsible adults here rather than act like a bunch of kids at the candy store spending a found dollar. Will anyone(with power) come forward and do the responsible thing? This really does pertain to our immediate future.
Dave Freytag, Rapid City