- Associated Press - Saturday, October 11, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A technical college in Sioux Falls wants autonomy from the local school district it’s controlled by, but it will likely take some work from lawmakers for that to happen.

Officials at the Southeast Technical Institute are trying to break away from the Sioux Falls School District, the Argus Leader reported (http://argusne.ws/115Oica ).

“Frankly, it’s hard to focus on everything,” President Jeff Holcomb said. “If we had our own, then it would be strictly designated for us.”

A law passed this year allows the college to gain autonomy as long it has approval from the school board. If the Sioux Falls school board approves, the college could establish its own local education agency to call the shots, said Rep. Mark Mickelson, R-Sioux Falls, who co-authored the original legislation.

But lawmakers still need to clarify some details, including whether the new agency can receive funding directly from the state.

Mickelson said lawmakers could introduce follow-up legislation in the upcoming session.

Mickelson said giving the institute more freedom would allow it to establish its own identity, which he called an asset at in Sioux Falls and at the capitol.

Like its counterparts in Watertown, Mitchell and Rapid City, Southeast Technical is assigned funding through the state Department of Education as long as it operates under the local district.

“One of the chief benefits of that, maybe, for the post-secondary technical institute, is heightened visibility for their community,” Mickelson said. “An increased willingness for local involvement and support.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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