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BVSD educates kids for less, but churns out positive results
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

February 07. 2014 6:00AM
The Brandon Valley School District remains one of the most efficient South Dakota schools in per pupil spending according to figures released in the 2012-13 Educational Statistics Digest.

BVSD Business Manager Paul Lundberg reported Jan. 27 the district continues to educate its kids at a cost of $6,381 per pupil. Brandon Valley is third behind Tea Area and Lennox in per pupil spending, ranked 149th out of 151 schools. “The larger schools are more efficient,” Lunderg said.

The state average is $7,739 per pupil. The highest cost per student is $28,277 (Elk Mountain) and the lowest is $5,800 (Tea Area).

“So, we’re very close to the lowest,” said Superintendent Dave Pappone. “This is a really big testament to how Mr. Lundberg and is office manage the district’s money.”

One stat that is not figured into the per pupil spending is the districts that have property tax opt-outs in place, including Sioux Falls, Harrisburg, Brookings, Mitchell and Huron, and possibly others. Brandon Valley has not opted-out of the property tax limitation.

While Brandon Valley is financially efficient in its per pupil spending, that frugalness doesn’t reflect in how well the students are performing academically.

“At the same time, we’re one of the lowest spending districts, we are also one of the highest performing districts,” Pappone said. “So we have the best of both worlds here.”
Watch D.O.G.S. update

Twenty-five dads have signed on to the inaugural Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program at Brandon Valley High School. Of those 25, at least half have spent a day or more in classrooms at the local high school.

“We’re looking at getting dads in the school again,” said BVHS Principal Gregg Talcott.
Brandon Valley is one of more than 1,150 schools in 36 states that currently have a Watch D.O.G.S program. High school guidance counselor Sonja Merrigan introduced the program here, which was founded in 1998. Nationally, the program is available for kids in grades K-12, but for now is only active here at the high school. Talcott said the program could be expanded to elementary and middle school grades.

Jon Christopherson, a dad to his daughter, Laura, a junior at BVHS, has spent two days in classrooms and hallways at BVHS as a Watch D.O.G.S. program participant.

“I haven’t spent a day in high school since … well, it’s been a long time,” he said.
“Probably since the day before I graduated.”

Christopherson said he’s enjoyed comparing some of his old high school memories to those of his daughter and other high school students.

“But I’m also absorbing so much,” he said. “To actually sit through classes, it’s been great fun, and I’ve been really impressed.”

Christopherson said he is very impressed with the administration and teaching staff.

He’s also decided that kids today are more driven. “Their attitude? Ah, they’re teenagers, but they’re better than we were. They’re more respectful, they’re more interactive with the teachers, which the teachers expect from them.”

Christopherson said he hopes more dads will want to participate in the Watch D.O.G.S. program.
“I’ve done two days so far, and if there’s more, I’ll do more,” he said. “I want to see more dads here because I think they would be a lot more impressed if they got to see it from inside the classroom.”

Talcott said he was skeptical when the program was first pitched. “But with no dads coming to Parent Advisory meetings, the program fills that void,” he said.

To learn more about the Watch D.O.G.S. program, go the district website, to or contact the high school administration.

Photo by Jill Meier

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