Where are the laptops for the kids who go to School daily?

The Argus Leader points out today that the Tri-Valley School District came up with a novel way to boost their school district numbers for state aid to education:

Spend one day in public school and go home with a new laptop.

Tri-Valley Superintendent Mike Lodmel sent a letter this week to every home-school family in the district inviting them to come to school on Sept. 29.

That’s the day the state does its official enrollment count, which determines how much money the district will get from the state next year.

“It’s a win-win for both the high school families and our district,” Lodmel said.


“The governor views this as a tactic to try to scam the state funding formula,” said Tony Venhuizen, Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s chief of staff.

The governor asked Lodmel to rescind his offer to home-schoolers and also removed him from a school finance accountability board created to ensure districts comply with state funding formula requirements. The superintendent was appointed by the governor last year and later elected its president.

Read it all here.

I suppose one could call it creative, if it wasn’t completely unethical.

But I have to ask… Where are the laptops for the kids who already go to school daily?

35 Replies to “Where are the laptops for the kids who go to School daily?”

  1. Troy Jones

    It is sad when we see a lack of personal integrity and honesty because at its core it is a lack of personal self-esteem. At what price do you sell your soul?

    But, when it is done by a person who is in a position of authority and respect of our next generation, it is abominable. At minimum, he needs to be reprimanded by his school board but I think detention or expulsion could be appropriate. I also think the state needs to very closely audit/review everything they get from this district. I would question anything they submit since he has proven he is willing to lie for money.

    1. Anonymous

      Apparently the school’s attorney said this was not specifically illegal, and I understand the way he put this out there was transparent, but it does show that this guy should not be in a position of handling taxpayer funds. His actions show a lack of integrity and concern for taxpayers as a whole; he was simply looking out for his little kingdom and the rest of the system can go pound sand-not the way a “public servant” should operate.

      I think he should be fired as this showed a complete disregard for his fiduciary obligations to the system as a whole.

  2. Tacitus

    This is worthy of a Latterell-esque facepalm. How oblivious and tone deaf do you have to be to think this is a good idea? And to put it in writing? My guess is heads will roll over this one.

  3. grudznick

    Ms/Mr. Lieberg, the property taxes those home-schooled parents pay is going to buy those “free” computers for their kids. Plus, to pay for the band teacher and football equipment those home schooled kids get to use.

    1. Springer

      The taxes paid by homeschool parents are a whole lot more than the cost of a laptop and a little sports or band equipment. Our kids went to a parochial school thru sixth grade so we essentially paid taxes twice (tuition plus taxes), our choice which we don’t regret, but the public school system does end up making money off both homeschoolers and kids attending private schools. I do have to admit this principal was thinking outside the box when it came to scamming the system (and no, I do not approve though).

      1. Anonymous

        Well, when the public teacher’s union demands a monopoly, heaven forbid those who decide to home-school or send their kids to a private/Christian school get any kind of break.

        My suggestion is that if you send your kids to a private institution you should get a credit (tax credit or just a check) for half of the cost the state would otherwise give a public school to teach the kid. That would save the taxpayers and give well-deserved relief to those who should have the ability to choose where their kid is educated.

        However, given the stranglehold the teacher’s union has on the state and on public perception (thanks, McCorkle), this wouldn’t fly. Also, groups like the Sioux Falls Free Thinkers (a/k/a Sioux Falls Society of Pagans) would fight this tooth and nail as would the anti-religion ACLU.

  4. grudznick

    Public school attendance should be mandatory. Jail for parents as penalty. Kids to foster care and then bused to public school.

  5. MC

    I have more questions than answers.

    First, it takes more than just to ‘show up’ to be considered enrolled in a school. There is paperwork that needs to be filled out shot records checked. In the case of Junior and High School, class schedules need to be set. There is a whole host of things that need to be done before a child can step foot in a school house. If all these kids show up, what was they going to do, have a special homeschool class for them?

    The other part I wonder about, is this just an isolated incident, or are other schools using similar tactics to boost numbers on September 29th? Is this symptom of a larger problem within the education system? The question then becomes, how do we count enrollment and who do we trust for an accurate count?

    I’m not ready to pull the trigger on a bill just yet, I need more information.

    1. John

      I like the sound of that Rep. Clark. Not everything is solved in this world by knee jerk reaction legislation…keep gathering facts and listening first.

    2. MC

      There is a new letter making the rounds. It appears a speaker was scheduled for that day to talk about dangers on social media and the internet.

      The school board did give their approval, it wasn’t voted on, it was just a nodding of the heads

  6. Steve Sibson

    Perhaps we should counter with a huge free event on Sept 29th that encouraged kids to skip school that day. We could educate the kids on ways to cut their parents’ taxes.

    1. Troy Jones

      Steve: Clever and funny. 5 stars for you.

      Kelly: I’ve not once been rescued by the Coast Guard or availed myself of the services of the Fire Department or been in prison. Where is my rebate?

  7. Anne Beal

    My understanding was that federal funding depended on “average daily attendance.”
    This prompts schools to close during times of high absenteeism, such as influenza outbreaks and blizzards. If a lot of kids aren’t going to be there it makes financial sense to close the school and not let that one day or two bring the average down.

    This story isn’t about property taxes it’s about fraud within the education system. The intention of increasing numbers on that day was to pass fraudulent numbers on to the DOE, for funding purposes.

    If this is how it works, homeschooling parents should shop around for the best deal.

  8. Anonymous

    The costs to educate the current number of kids are current levies. You give rebates or vouchers to private/homeschoolers, that drains the funds and tax rates go up to fill the deficit resulting in no savings and ultimately higher taxes.
    This issue is unfortunate and highlights why the legislature has trust issues with handing out larger increases for education.

    1. Anonymous

      How about if there are fewer kids it the public system they close some schools and reduce staff? Give parents who home school or send to private schools HALF what the state would send to the public school and you should save money unless the teacher’s union throws a fit about reducing staff to reflect reduced enrollment, which they would probably do.

  9. Springer

    Apparently trivalley learned this strategy from other states who also bribe kids to come to school on their count day with parties etc. Maybe instead of just counting on only one day, it should be an average over one month.

  10. Troy Jones

    Springer and Anonymous 12:12:

    What alarms me about your comments (and the fact this joker/thief ever considered it but actually tried to do it) is Superintendant’s aren’t people we can count on to be honest. We shouldn’t have to add some rules and procedures but should be able to trust them since we entrust our kids to them.

    1. Steve Sibson

      Troy, after the scandal in Platte, the way the teacher pay sales tax was handled, and now this, we should understand that Educrats care more about money than they do the kids. They care even less about the taxpayers.

  11. Tara Volesky

    How many Superintendents are involved with the MCEC, Gear-up and all the other educational non-profits in SD? Probably have to go look at the diagram at USD.

  12. Troy Jones


    I am just pointing out the liberal entitlement attitude your comment represents.

    By the way, I support vouchers because they are good policies. Just don’t like them advocated as entitlement by Obamacare lRepublicans.

  13. Just Another View

    A few points to ponder: 1. Enrolling students for day is an unethical, but enrolling students for the year, offering them laptops and curriculum while they are educated outside of the school building is not. There are districts that have students attending 100% on-line or virtual schools in some districts. Just showing up on the “count” day doesn’t make you a student. Being enrolled on that day does – it doesn’t matter if you are there physically in the building or not. I am guessing that is what the intent here was and it was handled poorly and does give off the odor of a scam. 2. Gear Up and MCEC is really about the SD DOE using outside sources for grants and employees so that neither of those appear in state budgets or as a part of FTE’s. Most educational cooperatives in SD do nothing like this and allow districts to share SPED resources. MCEC had sketchy ethics at the top and became something it was never intended to be and no one dealt with it until it was too late. It was ripe for corruption and cronyism, more so than any educational related organization that I have seen because they were WILLING to be the bank and find loopholes and in many cases, create those loopholes. 3. SDEA is toothless in SD – non-binding arbitration and teachers cannot strike – so if you do not like what is happening in your school – it is your school board. The superintendent works for them, not the other way around. A good principal can fire a bad teacher with tenure if they are willing to document and what they have passes the legal muster.

  14. Anonymous

    I understand people are upset that he is trying to “game” the system, but isn’t it sad that our schools are to the point that they need to attempt to game any funding system?

  15. Springer

    Maybe their would be enough money for actual education if schools were not deemed responsible for dealing with academics plus social problems, all manner of sports and all their attendant expenses, nursing, free breakfasts, etc. Public schools should be responsible for academics, and parents for the rest.

  16. Troy Jones

    Anonymous 11:29,

    What are you talking about? Are you wholly devoid of any morals? A person of trust is never justified in stealing.


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