SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — On October 1, 2021, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced that a new review of the state’s social studies content standards would take place, effectively scrapping the work done by a previous workgroup. This moves came after revisions by the Dept. of Education sparked controversy due to the removal of elements of Native American history and culture from the draft.
Three days after Noem’s announcement, the state received the bill from the American Institutes for Research, the group that had been contracted to facilitate the revision process. By October 29, 2021, the $218,833 bill was paid in full.
Together, these two contracts amount to $220,405 in state funds paid out for the facilitation of a standards revision process that was discarded.
This information, from contracts to invoices, was found using South Dakota’s Open Checkbook site. The total noted in this work accounts only for contracted budgets. It is unknown at this moment if any additional funds have been paid out in the standards revision process.
Once the project was restarted with a new workgroup, a new facilitator was also chosen. Rather than re-contracting with AIR, the state instead selected William Morrisey, a former professor of politics at a private Christian conservative college in Michigan.
Morrisey’s contract with the state reveals that he is to be paid $200,000 for the work, which included selecting commission members, drafting and approving standards, and facilitating zoom meetings.
As of August 30, 2022 Morrisey has been paid $100,000 out of the $200,000, with work still remaining to earn the rest.
The state also has a contract dated April 2022 with East Dakota Educational Coop, budgeted at $74,145 for assisting in the coordination of facilities and meals for the revision process, as well as paying stipends and travel reimbursements to commission members. This contract has not yet been paid out.
So far, a total of $320,405 in contracts have been paid out across the entirety of the social studies standards revision process, with a remaining $174,145 still unpaid but under contract. Once all present contracts have been paid in full, the total cost of the endeavor will land just shy of half a million dollars, coming to $494,550.
Also under revision by the Dept. of Ed are the state’s CTE standards. A contract was awarded in 2021 and 2022 to Black Hills Special Services for the purpose of “[Ensuring] that participants, with a mix of secondary and postsecondary educators, and industry representatives, participate via electronic means in standards revisions for Spring and Summer 2021.” The total for each of these contracts was $40,000, though neither appear to be paid out.