Jackelyn Severin

Freelance journalist covering education for South Dakota Public Broadcasting.  

South Dakota teacher salaries increase, but the state once again ranks 50th in the nation

Back in 2015 things looked grim in terms of teacher salary. Wade Pogany, president of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, said the state was last in the nation. “We saw teacher shortages, pretty significant teacher shortages,” he said. “And the legislature, Gov. Daugaard, knew that something needed to be done. We were really in a crisis.” To address this crisis Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the legislature established the Blue Ribbon Task Force that made recommendations to change the scho

Employers recruit talent in Sioux Falls, address state's workforce needs

Employers in the Sioux Falls area connected with hundreds of students in person and virtually at the 3rd annual Talent Draft Day. The event’s goal is to attract future employees and address the region’s workforce needs. The Talent Draft Day is organized by the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. This year the University of Sioux Falls hosted the event. Zoe Cigard is a senior at the University of Sioux Falls. She’s involved in a lot of different activities on campus and runs cross country and

Lawmakers adopt medical cannabis rules

One of the proposals rejected by lawmakers concerned the issue of home-grown cannabis. The health department’s draft rules required a physician to certify if a patient can grow marijuana plants and make a recommendation if they needed more than three plants. The South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations testified that physicians do not have the training or expertise to decide if a patient should be allowed to grow cannabis or not. Representative Jon Hansen of Dell Rapids agreed. “As

RCAS Back-to-School Plan in Limbo

Rapid City’s back-to-school COVID mitigation plan is in limbo. And school is less than two weeks away. School officials made the plan last spring before a board election. Now the board’s new leader and new members say the plan needs changes. The plan does not require masks or vaccinations for its students or staff. It does, however, have several other mitigation procedures. One protocol requires unvaccinated students and staff to quarantine if they show symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-

Rapid City School Board Votes Down Immigrant Grant Program

The Rapid City school board turned down a grant opportunity that would help new immigrant students. The $30,000 grant would have provided summer English classes and a website to help immigrant families navigate the school system. Dr. Lisa Hafer is director of special services at Rapid City Area Schools. She says last spring the school system had an influx of new immigrant students. “And we are expecting more. We just had part of our kindergarten screening process and I’ve had names coming in

Helping South Dakota Kids Become Proficient Readers

Sixty-four percent of South Dakota fourth graders are not proficient in reading. That’s according to the latest national KIDs Count. It ranks states on how well children are doing on a number of important metrics. The number of kids who cannot read at grade level is dropping. Xanna Burg is the KIDSs Count coordinator for South Dakota. “So, they're at 64% now, a decade ago was at 67. So that's trending in the right direction. And South Dakota does do better than the national average. So, you kn

Report Shows Students Fell Behind During Pandemic, Sec. Of Education Says They're Catching Up

A new report shines a light on student absences and other pandemic problems in schools. The state Department of Education surveyed districts in May to come up with the data. Over 96 percent of public, private, and tribal schools in the state responded to the COVID-19 Impact Survey. The report covers how schools dealt with remote education, how the pandemic affected student learning and what the department of education needs to focus on for the upcoming school year and beyond. In March of 2020

With School 3 Weeks Away, State Still Has Nearly 120 Unfilled Teacher Positions

The pandemic is causing teacher shortages and other school staffing problems across the state. Two top education officials discussed the issue at a recent Sioux Falls Rotary meeting. State Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson says every school district in South Dakota is dealing with staffing shortages for the upcoming school year. “The open positions right now, going into the school year 3 weeks away, we still have almost 120 unfilled positions for classroom teachers.” Sanderson says some t

Two New Programs Will Provide Free Mental Health Services To First Responders

First responders in South Dakota are gaining access to free mental-health services. Lawmakers passed the new programs during the 2021 session, and members of a legislative task force received updates at a recent meeting. Representative Ryan Cwach of Yankton is the vice-chair of the Mental Health of First Responders Task Force. He says one new program is for volunteer firefighters and EMTs. The program will provide free mental health insurance and a hotline connecting volunteer first responders

Concerns About Qualifications Expressed During Med Marijuana Town Hall

South Dakota’s medical marijuana law takes effect July 1st. But state health officials still need to issue regulations and create a distribution process. South Dakota voters approved the ballot measure last fall. Secretary of Health, Kim Malsam-Rysdon, says the language in state law is the same as the original initiated measure. She says to get a medical marijuana ID card a physician must certify that a patient qualifies. “And that definition is a chronic or debilitating disease or medical co

Lawmakers Continue To Discuss Regulations Surrounding Medical Marijuana

Lawmakers continue to discuss regulations surrounding medical marijuana in South Dakota. On Monday, a legislative subcommittee listened to several presentations including one from North Dakota’s department of health. North Dakota legalized medical marijuana four years ago. The state invested in a software system which registers all patients who use medical marijuana and their caregivers. The system also tracks marijuana manufactured and dispensed in the state. Jason Wahl is director of North D

Dakota Wesleyan University Expands Nursing Program

Dakota Wesleyan University plans to expand one of its nursing programs in Sioux Falls. The program is for Licensed Practical Nurses who want to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. The demand for nurses with a bachelor’s degree is on the rise. That has prompted the expanded program at Dakota Wesleyan University. Fredel Thomas is a Vice President at the school. She says the nursing program is in a new downtown Sioux Falls location. More space will let them increase enrollment from 24 to 32 studen

Rapid City Will Get First Long-Term Acute Care Hospital In Region

Rapid City will get the region’s first long-term acute care hospital. Monument Health begins construction on the new hospital this fall. The venture is a partnership between Monument Health and Vibra Healthcare. Vibra operates several long-term acute care and rehabilitation facilities across the U.S. Mark Longacre is Vice President of Operations for Monument Health in Rapid City. He says long-term acute care facilities serve patients with a variety of conditions. They include respiratory and i

Affordability And Access To Childcare Are Not Equal In South Dakota

“Is it because parents made that decision themselves, is it because the parents don’t have other options, or is it because parents can’t afford preschool? So, unfortunately, we need better data in order to understand and be able to support young children and families.” One organization is trying to remedy that data problem. The South Dakota Association for the Education of Young Children has an online tool that collects information from agencies and stakeholders across the state.

Locally Grown Duck Eggs For Sale In Sioux Falls

The humble chicken egg is a staple of our diet and often the first thing we reach for at breakfast or for baking. If you live in the Sioux Falls area, though, you have another option. Now you can buy locally grown duck eggs. The Costlow farm has a myriad of animals, from chickens, to goats, to geese. But, of course, the stars of the show are Debra Costlow's ducks. Costlow has 6 different breeds of ducks so her flock comes in all shapes and colors. “The black ones are Cayugas . I don't know if

Some Schools Offering Hybrid Learning

The school year has just started and already students in districts across South Dakota are testing positive for COVID-19. Many of those schools will switch to online learning much sooner than anticipated. There are a few versions of online learning – one iscalled hybrid – with some students in the classroom and others at home. Tina Belden is the Computer Science teacher at Estelline High School. She is talking to a full class of students, although, it may not look like it. That’s because in her

SDPB's Jackelyn Severin Visits Blue Dasher Farms

For the last three decades, farms in South Dakota and around the United States have trended towards bigger operations focusing on growing one or two commodity crops. Proponents of regenerative agriculture aim to reverse that trend by adding more animal and crop diversity in order to make farming more sustainable both economically and environmentally. SDPB looks at the future of farming this month. Jackelyn Severin brings you this story from Blue Dasher Farms.
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