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May 27, 2014 09:55 PM

Public Vote Will Decide SF School District Start Date

After a 20-day petition drive gathered 6,104 signatures, 4,954 of them were validated. That meets the necessary signature count to put future school start dates in the hands of registered voters.

"We just had a lot of people that worked very hard on this and felt passionate about it. It's been something that people have wanted to see changed for awhile," Wendy McDonnel said.

McDonnel is one of a number of parents who want to see the school start date pushed after Labor Day. The petition drive ended on May 7th, but McDonnell didn't learn about the signature approval until tonight.

"I had emailed the school district to find out where we were in the process and they let us know it was on the agenda," McDonnel said. "A little disappointed that nobody reached out to us but, you know, we feel good about where we're at."

The Sioux Falls School Board approved school calendars in April for the next four years, and board president Doug Morrison feels that what's in place is in the best interest of the district.

"I think the school board will stand behind the calendars that have already been adopted. As far as leading the same reasons that we voted to put the calendar in place the way we did, we'll try to educate the public on those benefits," Morrison said.

Now that the Sioux Falls School Board has officially accepted the petitions, parents will get to decide, ultimately, when school starts coming this spring.

The vote will take place during a spring school board election next year.

"I don't know what we'll have for resources and I don't know how we'll manage the time of talking to people about why we feel it's important, but if we did what we did in 20 days, I feel good about where we're going moving forward," McDonnel said.

"Ultimately, it would be up to how they vote and if they vote to start school after Labor Day, then we'll gladly adjust the calendars accordingly because we work for them, ultimately," Morrison said.

The exact date of the election has yet to be determined. McDonnel says that a compromise with the school district about a start date was the preferred route, but she will now let the results of next spring's vote decide the issue.

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