Sweet potatoes and secrecy

The Sioux Falls School Board voted last night to ditch the name Mark Twain from the new elementary school that will be built on the Mark Twain grounds. See this story.

The story includes quotes from Melanie Bliss, who lives in the neighborhood and who was among residents, parents and former Mark Twain students who objected to the name change. Bliss also served two terms on the School Board until 1994.

We spoke yesterday about how the current superintendent and board have handled naming the new school. She does not approve. When she was on the board, she said that name changes were handled publicly. For example, Memorial Middle School was a tribute to the eight people, including Gov. George Mickelson, who perished in a plane crash. Some had suggested naming the school after Mickelson, but public debate finally rested on a name that would recognize all those who lost their lives.

Also during her time on the board, Washington High School in downtown was closed, and the new Washington opened.

"Its name moved with the school," she said.

Other than executive session items, business was conducted in the open, she said. Unlike today, she said. Bliss said she couldn’t even get the names of the people on the board who recommended the Mark Twain-name change.

But there is one notable exception: Sweet potatoes. Board members were told never to reveal that sweet potatoes were used as an ingredient in the pastries served by schools. The reason: Revealing this tidbit might have stopped children from eating the pastries.

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