Happy Friday! Megan here.

Weather check: Lil foggy, but the warmer temps continue

Giveaway check: You've got until Wednesday to enter to win a three-night stay in the Black Hills! And, if you've been intimidated by the existing membership options, I've (temporarily) added a new one for you at $3/month or $30/year!

This weekend, I've got a recap for you of a recent conversation I had with Superintendent Jane Stavem talking about all things K-12 education. You'll also find a look at how local Girl Scouts are preparing for cookie season. Plus, find some Super Simplified Stories and meet some new folks leading economic development in the region.

And now, news:


What Sioux Falls top education official is focused on in 2024

Simplified: Superintendent Jane Stavem is in her fourth year leading the Sioux Falls School District. She sat down with Sioux Falls Simplified to talk about her priorities and what she expects to spend the most time focused on in 2024.

Why it matters

  • The Sioux Falls School District is the largest in the state with a more than $300 million annual budget. There are about 24,000 kids within the district, all of whom are affected by the leadership decisions Stavem makes.
  • When she was first hired as superintendent in 2020, Stavem set a goal to make Sioux Falls the best school district in the nation, a goal she's often repeated during her tenure.
  • As federal pandemic relief funds dry up in 2024, the district will have to make some choices about which COVID-era programs need to continue in the district and which areas will have to be cut. It's about an $8 million question, Stavem said, which could look like about a 4% reduction across the board between this year and next year.
"There shouldn't be drastic things," Stavem said of the budget. "It's not a slash and burn, but it's a gradual adjusting so that the sustainability factor is there."

Get a summary of the full interview here.

Topics covered include childcare, school safety, teacher compensation and more.


Meet the region's new economic development team

This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Simplified: The group of people focused on growing the Sioux Metro area has some new faces coming this year. Meet the new and experienced team behind the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.

Why it matters

  • The Sioux Metro Growth Alliance (SMGA) empowers communities around Sioux Falls to grow through engaging public officials and business leaders, as well as connecting them with resources to foster growth.
  • SMGA currently works closely with 16 municipalities across a four-county region. The organizations members have access to various economic development services and events throughout the year.
  • SMGA President and CEO Tyler Tordsen took the helm of the organization in the fall, and he's now got a team of four experienced professionals to help serve the needs of the fast-growing region.
“I’m really excited for what 2024 has in store for the Sioux Metro especially with our new team in place,” Tordsen said. “Our communities have a strong growth trajectory and SMGA will be there every step of the way for our partners. We’re just getting started."

Meet the team


Super Simplified Stories

  • It's (city) election season, babyyyy. Folks interested in being a part of the Sioux Falls City Council can officially begin circulating and filing nominating petitions today. Several people have already announced their intent to run, but the nominating petitions are what'll determine which names make it onto the ballot for the April 9 city and school board election. Stay tuned for lots more Simplified election coverage to come as we get closer to the day itself.
  • Did you see the loose herd of horses? Literally, the press release from the Sioux Falls Police Department said, "Loose herd of horses." That's a first for me in nearly a decade reporting, folks. The horses were reported in the area of East 26th Street and Southeastern Avenue. Police say they were able to corral the herd about a mile away at 33rd Street and South Holt Avenue. There were 10 horses, and none were injured. The question I'm left with – where did they come from? Do people just have horses in the middle of town? Are you the person who lost 10 horses? Because I want to talk to you.
  • Southeast Tech enrollment increases. Southeast Technical College saw an 8% increase in enrollment this spring compared to last. The school also saw a 10-year high in fall enrollment numbers, and retention is up to 80%. It's good news for the workforce, and part of the success comes down to industry and community partnerships, President Robert Griggs said.


Simplified: Hundreds of Sioux Falls-area Girl Scouts gathered Saturday for "Cookie University," an annual event to teach girls entrepreneurship skills and get them excited about selling cookies.

Why it matters

  • Cookie University helps both energize girls for the upcoming cookie season and learn skills related to entrepreneurship and goal-setting.
  • The girls also got a chance to meet this year's mascot for the cookie season, Lucy the Axolotl. Each year, the mascot changes based on a vote by scouts nationwide.
  • In breakout sessions, girls were able to earn a badge, connect with fellow scouts and even sample some cookies.
"They learn so much about inclusion, the business side of things, how to sell," parent Jessica McCroskey said.

And how can I find cookies?


More Simplified Stories

Councilor suggests ‘immediate action’ in childcare
“If you look at some of the research that has already been done ... the office of a childcare coordinator, or whatever you want to call it, is necessary,” Councilor Alex Jensen said.
Stuff to do: Jan. 24-30
Here’s a look at what’s going on in Sioux Falls this week.
How Great Bear is making winter fun accessible for everyone
Winter weather doesn’t have to just be tolerated – it can be celebrated. That’s the philosophy Great Bear Ski Valley is bringing to its already record-breaking season.


What I'm falling for this weekend:


How to support Sioux Falls Simplified

Has Sioux Falls Simplified made you feel smarter about where you live?

Here are a few ways to ensure this smarter, easier local news outlet is here to stay:

  • Become a member. Consider buying into a smarter Sioux Falls by becoming a member and offering financial support to the no B.S. journalism you've been reading here.
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Reach out

What story do you want to see simplified? Falling for something local? Send any news tips, attaboys, missed typos or quesadillas to megan@sfsimplified.com.

Thank you

Thank you to Sioux Falls Simplified sponsors, including Dakota Adventure Supply, the Sioux Falls Development Foundation, Panther Premier Print Solutions, the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, Barre3 Sioux Falls, Midco, the Great Plains Zoo, and the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. When you support them, you're also supporting Sioux Falls Simplified.