Simplified: Sioux Falls school officials are closely watching a handful of bills moving through the state legislative session related to everything from funding to vaccines to public meeting requirements.

Why it matters: Sioux Falls has the largest public school district in the state, and, since a large chunk of the state's budget goes to education, it's safe to say officials have a dog in the fight.

What is the district tracking?

The school district identifies key bills in each legislative session.

  • This year there were nine key bills, and so far four of those have died either on committee or the chamber floor.
  • Of the five remaining key bills, the district supports only one.
  • The positions on both key bills and other bills the district watches are approved by the school board.

What do Sioux Falls school officials support?

The lone bill with the district stamp of approval is Senate Bill 49, which would increase the amount of money going to K-12 schools in the state.

What do Sioux Falls school officials oppose?

  • Mandates. The district opposes House Bill 1108, a measure to require schools to allow the playing of an honor song or Lakota Flag song. Programming should be left up to the local district, officials say.
  • Defining biological sex in sports. In general, opponents of the bill say it discriminates against transgender kids, but that's not the basis of the school district's opposition. Instead, the district says the bill sets up a conflict between state and federal law that could open up schools to lawsuits.
  • Unclear intent. Senate Bill 170 would prohibit "certain physical examinations" without parental consent. District officials say the intent of the bill is unclear, and any laws impacting student medical care shouldn't leave anything up to question.
  • Revised homeschool rules. Senate Bill 177 removes the accountability for home-schooled students, said business manager Todd Vik. It would also allow home-schooled kids to participate in public school activities regardless of academic eligibility.
  • The opposition to SB 177 continued, saying it would remove the "last vestige of accountability" for home-schooled students in the state.

What do school board members have to say?

Board member Kate Parker motioned to make House Bill 1217 – the one defining biological sex in sports – a key bill during the Feb. 8 school board meeting.

Later in that same meeting Board President Cynthia Mickelson spoke in opposition to Senate Bill 177 – the one about homeschooling – before adjourning. Here's what she had to say:

"I would encourage anyone who thinks that all parents are good and altruistic to spend a week on a grand jury in Minnehaha County, and they would see that that is not true.
There needs to be some protections for those children, and this bill removes any of those protections for those children who need us."