SDHSAA Taking Nominations for Three Board Positions, Considers Adding Ninth Board Member

The South Dakota High School Activities Association has its big annual meeting this week Tuesday, April 21, and a Board of Directors meeting Tuesday and Wednesday, April 21–22, in Pierre. They meet Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Pierre Riggs High School, then Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. at the SDHSAA office at 804 N. Euclid Street.

The annual meeting on Tuesday includes nominations for three new board members. The first open seat is the East River at-large seat. The second is open to school board members from the “small school group,” which under the current SDHSAA constitution means Spearfish and every school smaller. The third seat is open to superintendents, principals, and activity directors from the “Division II” schools, meaning every school with average daily membership equal to or between Yankton’s 683 and Crow Creek’s 193. (You can check with group and Division your school belongs to on the SDHSAA’s ADM webpage.)

The annual meeting will also discuss and possibly amend a constitutional amendment proposed by 38 member schools to expand the SDHSAA Board of Directors from eight members to nine. Currently, three seats on the board are allotted by school enrollment. One seat is filled by an administrator from one of the eight largest schools that make up one third of total student enrollment statewide (that’s Division I: the three Sioux Falls schools, the two Rapid City schools, Aberdeen, Watertown, and Brandon). Another seat is dedicated to the next 29 largest schools representing the next third of statewide student enrollment (Division II: Yankton to Crow Creek). A third seat goes to the remaining 143 schools that make up the last third of students enrollment (Division III: Canton and Custer on down to Black Hills Lutheran and School for the Blind). According to the amendment text printed in the SDHSAA annual bulletin, the amendment would change those three divisions to four, each representing a quarter of our students:

  • Division I: 6 schools, SF Roosevelt to RC Central;
  • Division II: 12 schools, Aberdeen Central to Harrisburg;
  • Division III: 36 schools, Spearfish to Bon Homme;
  • Division IV: 126 schools, Sioux Valley to School for the Blind.

Note that this amendment is not proposing a four-class system for activities. This amendment only applies to the division system used for allotting seats on the board.

This constitutional amendment and all nominees for board seats will be placed on ballots mailed to the schools by May 1. Each school then has until May 29 to vote. Board candidates need a majority vote, determined by top-two run-off if necessary. The constitutional amendment requires a 60% vote from member schools that cast a ballot.

I notice an interesting conflict in rules: SDHSAA members will decide on changing the number of seats apportioned to represent equal segments of their population, yet the vote is counted by member schools, without any weight given to student enrollment. If all 181 schools vote, 109 must vote in favor of the plan. If the 73 smallest schools on the roster voted nay, the plan would be killed by schools representing less than 10% of the student population. Looking from the other direction, the 28 largest schools (down to Milbank) constitute 60% of statewide student enrollment, yet they would still need to get 81 more schools to vote with them to pass the four-division board expansion.

In this case, none of those representation games should matter, since this amendment appears to benefit big schools and small schools. Creating another seat by making smaller divisions gives every school a better shot at landing someone on the SDHSAA board. And everyone should like moving to nine members, because who wants a board with an even number that can result in tie votes?