Editor's note: This is part of a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find the full city/school election coverage here.

Simplified: Five people are vying for two open seats on the board that oversees the largest school district in the state. Sioux Falls Simplified sat down with all five candidates to get their take on issues relevant to local schools.

Why it matters

  • When it comes to equity, the school district recently faced a Title IX lawsuit after cutting its gymnastics program, and as a result, they'll continue to offer gymnastics for at least three more years. We asked school board candidates a broader question about how they'll approach equity in programming if elected.

A quick note: Candidates are listed in the order in which they appear on the Sioux Falls School District election page. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

How would you ensure students have equitable access to programming?

Marc Murren: "I don't think there's a problem. If we have it, (students) are all able to go out and be a part of it."

  • Murren noted that he's also not ashamed of voting to cut the gymnastics program because the numbers were down. "That was a tough decision, and that's about all I can say."

Gail Swenson: "Extracurriculars connect kids to their school ... we really have to make sure what we're offering is quality and equitable."

  • Swenson said the district also needs to do a better job of communicating its decisions with the public in a more transparent way – "without that, people think it's shady."

Bobbie Tibbetts: "There's always a process, so it's about making sure the process is in place with clear expectations, that decisions follow the process and adding transparency."

  • She also noted a desire to make sure kids know what their options are and are exposed to various programs across the district. "The opportunities (Sioux Falls has) to take part in activities is a win."

Stuart Willett: "In New York (where I taught previously), there was no equity of access at all"

  • He also said he's been particularly impressed by the music program in Sioux Falls, adding, "we have to have those programs, and they have to be available to everybody."

Patrick Starr: "(The district) needs to be more transparent. Extracurriculars are an extension of the classroom."

  • Starr also noted that there was no public discussion of the district's decision to extend gymnastics for another three years, and he's got questions about the lawsuit settlement. "It's got to be more open."