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$360K Donation Saves Brookings Gifted Program, Orchestra, Three Jobs

This just in from a Brookings listener: Brookings Radio reports an anonymous donor has given the Brookings School District $360,000 to offset some of the $903,000 reduction in state education aid for the coming school year. Superintendent Roger DeGroot says this donation will save from the budget axe the Brookings gifted program, the school orchestra, an elementary librarian, a middle school teacher, and a high school guidance counselor. Still getting chopped: East Central Multi-District, three custodians, a technology coordinator, and a high school teacher.

One citizen stepping forward to single-handedly save important academic programs, just as Stan Adelstein saved the best high school orchestra in the nation, deserves praise and celebration. State legislators and a governor driving public school districts to rely on private benefactors to sustain adequate education deserve scorn and rejection at the next election.

This donation is wonderful, it is civic-minded, thank you thank you thank you for it! But this donation, welcome as it is, violates the fiscal principle that supposedly guided Governor Daugaard this year in rejecting spending reserves, the principle that one-time money should not be used for ongoing expenses. Other communities not so fortunate as Brookings to have such wealthy education boosters will still have to deprive students of opportunities this year. Even in Brookings, the donation only means fewer cuts, not no cuts, and only cushions the district this year.

Public schools should not have to rely on the good graces of local donors to fulfill the state's constitutional duty to provide free and fair education.

Read and contribute to my running tally of K-12 education cuts around South Dakota.


  1. Supersweet 2011.03.22

    So what happens when the $360K is spent out?

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.03.22

    Very good question. I hope Brookings won't have to go begging.

  3. Wayne Pauli 2011.03.23

    It is sad to see public education being turned into private funded education. My wife and I were visiting the Sioux Falls Christian complex in SE Sioux Falls recently. Upon entry and viewing of the buildings the first question that my wife asked was, "I wonder what tuition is here?" Yes, it is that nice. I am beginning to think that rather than fight over money that we should change our consitution regarding education, just wipe it out and let all education become privatized. We sure hate being a burden to the taxpayers of South Dakota. Potholes in our education are much worse that potholes in our roads. Yet we treat both of them as necessary infrastructures that we half-heartedly throw a few dollars at.

  4. Charlie Johnson 2011.03.23

    I think Wayne is making a good point. Is the real agenda in education and it's funding by all states(not just SD), an attempt to privatized all education. It seems to be the most selfish approach known to mankind. It's me, myself, my kids, and to heck with what is important to OUR KIDS and OUR COMMUNITY. And if my income level is higher than most, then the proverbial "middle finger" gets pointed a little higher. We have politics today that caters to the "me" in us rather "we" in us. Public education especially k-12 turns into collaterial damage in a war of values gone amock.

  5. Carl Fahrenwald 2011.03.23

    Charlie's point hits home as I have thought this for years as a possible explanation for the deliberate de-valuing and de-funding of public education. Legislators voting this way really do have a hidden agenda to eventually force a voucher system and home school options to replace or supplement a "failing" public system.

  6. Douglas Wiken 2011.03.23

    One of the SD tribes kicked money into the Winner School System to pay for buses to the Rapid City BB tournaments.

    Interesting priorities, but I guess that is looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  7. Wayne Pauli 2011.03.23

    The private and mostly relgious affiliated schools have seen an ebb and flow of success. It would be interesting to just sit down over a cup of coffee and make a list of the number of such entities that once existed that are no longer open. Several of those defunct are Catholic, including the one that my wife attended. Sad to say where the school was is a parking lot. Not even a marker like Franklin has. Maybe I am watching too much TV and there is really not an ulterior motive (from Carl). It just makes me feel uneasy when things like this seem to line up. Like Charlie said, it just might be

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