Happy Friday! Megan here.

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This weekend, I've got a look at Avera's biggest building project in history. You'll also find more details on the Sioux Falls school board candidates, and a bonus pay raise teachers likely weren't expecting.

And now, news:


This is Avera's largest building project in history

Simplified: Avera Health this week announced plans to build a brand new, six-story addition to its McKennan campus as well as a three-story digestive health services building at the Avera on Louise campus. Here's what you need to know about the historic $245 million project.

Why it matters

  • This project will be the largest building project in the health system's history with a planned 350,000 square feet, and it's a massive investment in hospital space to care specifically for women and children – as well as a way to accommodate for future growth in the region.
  • Avera has seen an increase in demand for pediatric specialties, and overall, the organization sees more than 1 million outpatient visits each year. The hope with this project is to create space to accommodate both those patients and the ever-growing population of Sioux Falls.
  • Additionally, moving the hospital system's digestive health services to one building will free up room for orthopedics – both of which are high-demand services, Place added. The construction project will also move all of Avera's cancer services under one roof at the Prairie Center.
"You should not have to go out of town (for medical care)," Avera President and CEO Jim Dover said. "You should to the Twin Cities. You should not have to go to Omaha. ... We're proud that people can receive their care here that's on par with the best universities."

Tell me more about the project


School board candidates on budgeting, equity and book bans

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

  • Sioux Falls is facing a budget shortfall in the coming year as federal pandemic relief funds run dry. It'll be up to the newly elected board members to help make decisions about what programs to cut and what to keep.
  • 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.
  • And as book bans become an increasingly prevalent topic for school boards nationwide, we asked school board candidates their take on how to approach decisions about the types of books and materials to which students have access.

Hear from the candidates here

Curious about budget stuff? More here.

Want to talk equity? More here.

Wanna know how candidates feel about book bans? I've got ya covered.


Super Simplified Stories

  • Metro is hiring. Metro Communications – the region's 911 call center – will open applications on April 8. If you're interested in applying, learn more here. Bonus: their new office space has windows.
  • Train to be a doula. South Dakota Doulas is hosting a birth and postpartum doula training in Sioux Falls April 5 and 6. Get all the tools you'll need to start your own business as a doula. To register, please contact Victoria Wakeman at 605-691-9319 or babysmart@brookings.net.
  • Teachers get a raise. The starting wage for a Sioux Falls School District teacher will be nearly $52,000 next school year after the district and the Sioux Falls Education Association opted to add another $2 million to teacher salaries in the coming year, Assistant Superintendent Jamie Nold told board members this week.
    • That'll also mean an overall 0.75% increase to all staff, as well as more money for teachers who take on extra duties like coaching.
    • The agreement also pays special attention to veteran teachers, ensuring their salaries don't stagnate. They'll see about a 2.5% salary increase above what they were already expecting – up to a total 5% increase.
  • More budget talk to come. The Sioux Falls School Board also started working on next year's budget this week. It's a lot to dig into, but if you want to get a first look, you can find the documents here (and a link to the board members talking about it here). Simplified versions of all of this to come – fear not.


What I'm falling for this weekend:


More Simplified Stories

Stuff to do: March 27-April 2
Egg hunts, mystery movies and nature walks round out the events happening in Sioux Falls this week.
Get a first look at the zoo’s big plans for growth
The Great Plains Zoo shared a first look at its long-term master plan this week, and it includes some major changes aimed at bringing a better experience to animals and guests alike.
What City Council candidates have to say about childcare
It costs more in one year to send your kid to a childcare center in Sioux Falls than it would to send them to a South Dakota state university.


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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 chocolate bunnies 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, 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.