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Whitney: Perfect timing for high school board seat

FORESTBURG — Serving on the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors will fit perfectly in Linda Whitney's plan.

Sanborn Central School District's superintendent has won a short-term spot on the Activities Association Board of Directors that runs through 2016. That's also the same year she plans to retire.

The Activities Association Board of Directors is a panel that makes decisions regarding rules and classifications for high school sports and extracurricular activities in the state. It also decides on eligibility of students, approves school cooperatives, organizes state tournaments and employs staff to run the day-to-day business in its Pierre offices.

"I'm for every student in South Dakota, whether they're from a small school or not," Whitney, 63, said this week in an interview with The Daily Republic. "If it's good for kids, we need to do it. It's that simple."

Her seat is designated for a school administrator from one the state's smaller school districts. Whitney also serves as high school principal and school counselor in the district of about 200 students in grades kindergarten through 12. The district includes the towns of Artesian, Forestburg and Letcher.

While serving on the board, Whitney said she will make decisions with her head, not her heart, and try and represent all of the state's schools.

Entering her 42nd year in education, Whitney said she was urged to run by a colleague who pointed out the two-year seat would work into her retirement plan.

The members of the board are limited to one term and cannot run for re-election.

"It really does work out," she said. "Hopefully I can do my term and then someone younger can come in and keep going."

Whitney has two goals that she would like to accomplish while on the board.

First, she hopes the board of directors expands to nine members, up from the current eight. She wants to see that because an eight-panel board allows for ties in voting. Secondly, she wants to create a way for schools to refer matters that decided by the board, if the matter requires schools to add personnel, or if the matter requires additional funding.

An example Whitney listed was the new requirement of shot clocks for Class A basketball games. Previously, Class A basketball teams played without a shot clock, but Class A athletic directors and the activities association board approved a change that requires all Class A teams to play with a shot clock starting in the upcoming school year. That's forcing schools to purchase and install equipment.

Whitney said there should be a way for schools districts to refer those actions to a vote because it forces schools to spend money to abide by the requirement.

"I don't know how long of a referral window there should be, but if there are finances or personnel involved, there should be an opportunity for districts to decide on that," she said.

Whitney started her career as a vocal and instrumental music teacher and has been in the Artesian/Artesian-Letcher/Sanborn Central district since 1984. She believes her experience in fine arts and her time around athletics will make her a well-rounded member of the board.

Whitney will fill the position of Mike Ruth, of Miller, who resigned from the board this year. Sandy Klatt, a school board member from Brandon Valley, won the other open seat available to large school board of education members. Their first meeting as members of the board will be in August.