Superintendent Dr. Pam Homan, DeeAnn Conrad, Community Relations Supervisor, and Ann Smith Federal Programs Coordinator of the Sioux Falls School District were on Viewpoint University to begin our series 'The Magic Number is 1310.'

Did you know about 8,000 of the 22,000 students in the district are living in some form of poverty?

Nearly all of the $6 million in federal money the district receives goes not to improve education, but to get children living in poverty in a better position so they are able to learn?

Counselors to deal, not with career, but daily life issues, such as medical care and transportation are becoming a larger portion of the district budget. The district even had to create a dental program for kids whose teeth hurt so badly they couldn't learn.

According to Dr. Homan about 50% of elementary students are participating in the federal school nutrition program. District wide the percentage is 40%.

Many students in poverty come to school hungry, tired, and sometimes sick. Some are anxious or scared. Not ideal issues to deal with at any age much less as a student needing to learn.

I am surprised at the number of programs, money, and staff time which has to be spent getting children ready to learn, as opposed to actually teaching them. As Dr. Homan pointed out huge changes have taken place within the district in the past ten years.

PTAS are sometimes one or two parents, and some parent teacher conferences have to be conducted at unique times based on parent availability. The learning situation is obviously much different than it used to be.

Almost 28% of the 16,660 white students are in poverty. 85% of Native American students are living in poverty.  The immigrant/refugee population is also represented on the poverty lists, but not nearly in the numbers of white and Native American students. So this isn't a "they don't speak English and were poor to start with" problem.

Tuesday (tomorrow), Carol Muller and Stacey Tieszen of the Minnehaha County Human Services office will present day two of 'The Magic Number is 1310.'

School Panel
(Dan Peters/KSOO)

The entire conversation with school district officials is below. Our panel includes Dr. Pam Homan Superintendent of Sioux Falls Schools, Communications Director DeeAnn Konrad and Coordinator of Federal Funds Ann Smith.

Knobe & Homan discuss the impetus behind the discussion of the Magic Number.

Poverty equals stress on children and makes learning difficult.

The difference between situational poverty and generational poverty.

Ann Smith says even something as simple as proper dentistry can give children a boost.

DeeAnn Konrad highlights difficulty in keeping proper contact with families in poverty.

Large number of Sioux Falls Elementary schools receive Title 1 funds.


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