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SF Teachers Discuss Proposed Policy

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For years, teachers in the Sioux Falls School District have been able to watch their own children before and after school in their classrooms. But now the Sioux Falls School Board is looking to change that.
In June the school board had its first reading of a policy called ‘Supervision of Students.’ After the policy was posted, the board received a lot feedback from teachers. So on Monday night, they held a special session to talk face to face with those who this policy will affect.

Jessica Mulhair, Special Education Teacher at Oscar Howe Elementary said, “I believe in my school. I take pride in the educators I work with, and the caring and compassion that I see her learn from in my school is priceless.”

Like many teachers in the district, Mulhair’s child sits with her in her classroom before and after school.

"I mean when helping teachers she does things like sharpening pencils, sorting papers, or pulling out workbook pages,” Mulhair said.

Mulhair said in the past three years that her daughter has been in her classroom, she has seen her grow and mature. But the opportunities for her to flourish even more could get taken away.
Sioux Falls School Board Member Todd Thoelke said," We have to worry about safety; we have to worry about the issues of the entire school district. Yet, I also understand the passion of being a kid in the school.”

Thoelke was just like Mulhair's kid, he grew up going to school with mom and dad. He said while he learned a lot of valuable life lessons from sitting in his parents' rooms, he understands the complications it has brought to the Sioux Falls School District.

 "There are really no teeth to it. I mean there's no explanation that says what the rules are, and that's what we have to come up with," Thoelke said.

The proposed policy would not allow teachers to have their children in their classrooms during school hours. So between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m the child would either have to be put in the Kid's Inc. Program, offered by the school district, or some other type of daycare. Thoelke said that's when a teacher is on duty and their children should be somewhere else until the school day is officially over.

As For Mulhair, she said she understands where the board is coming from, but she is worried about how it will affect the kids.
 "All we've seen is positive,” Mulhair said. “And I guess I wonder how our children would feel if they were all of a sudden told they couldn't be there.”

 Another worry for some of the teachers is the Kid’s Inc. option. Right now the program doesn’t allow parents to pay hourly rates. So teachers requested the school board to look into finding a way they could. That way they could pay less each month, since their children would only be watched about 5 hours each week verses the average 15 to 20.

The school board will be holding another discussion session on September 23.  

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