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After Woodbury County Board members laid out three years of fundamental problems with the Sioux Rivers mental health regional board and staff - voiced under then-Chairman Mark Monson to then-Chairman Jeremy Taylor to myself as chairman today - we still had several people on Tuesday caution us against a “rushed” decision to leave Sioux and Plymouth counties as we endeavor to provide legally acceptable and fiscally responsible mental health services to our constituents in Woodbury County.

What I want to do here is share a concise version of my comments regarding the Sanford Center at this week's Board of Supervisors meeting.

First, I want to be very clear: The Sanford Center does good work with its K-5 after-school program, ACT prep program and gang prevention program.

As for mental health services, the Sanford Center feels the rules have changed and they are targeted. My response to the executive director then and now is that the rules have been unfair to them from the beginning. I’m talking about the Memorandum of Understanding held between Sioux Rivers and the Sioux City School District which funds the majority of the Sanford Center’s budget. The mental health region funds $260,000 and the school district, with a budget in the millions for at-risk programs, puts in only $30,000.

Why are the political cannons facing one member county of a mental health region that’s told by state law that juvenile mental health is outside the scope of core services?

This, right here, is the politicization we all claim to lament. So I’m taking the politicized bull by the horns and calling upon members of the Sioux City School Board to put their money where their mouth is. If this is a good program as their constituents have expressed and as their superintendent has written to the Sioux Rivers Regional Board, then step up. It’s not rocket science to deduce that parents would expect their taxes to the school district should pay for school-based programs.

Let’s not teach our kids that the ends justify the means — fund this the right way. - Matthew Ung, chairman, Woodbury County Board of Supervisors


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