Sioux Falls, SD
They're less than three miles apart. Just a ten-minute drive, but the differences between two Sioux Falls Elementary Schools are dramatic.
Terry Redlin is located toward the center of town. Harvey Dunn is farther east -- in a neighborhood with more expensive homes.
100 percent of students at Terry Redlin receive free or reduced price meals compared to 21 percent at Harvey Dunn.
33 percent of Terry Redlin third grade students are proficient readers -- Harvey Dunn's scores are nearly double that.
Harvey Dunn has an active Parent teacher organization. Terry Redlin struggles to get enough volunteers. The school had to cancel events last year, including book giveaways.
Three miles and one whole world apart.
Harvey Dunn Elementary has lots of parents who volunteer. Transportation isn't an issue. Terry Redlin is a title one school.
"There are some cases where certainly some schools have more robust fundraising programs, more active PTAs. That can be for a lot of reasons," Doug Morrison with the Sioux Falls School District said.
Terry Redlin Principal Ryan DeGraff says parents at his school face many obstacles.
"We know that for many families, they want to help out, but there's challenges. Whether it's transportation, whether it's work schedules...there's all sorts of different barriers," DeGraff said.
Studies show that those barriers -- even in elementary school -- can lower a student's chances of someday going to college.
Those working at Terry Redlin are doing what they can to improve those odds.
"We try to eliminate that barrier of, 'Are they hungry? Is that why they are struggling?' so we try to eliminate those barriers," DeGraff said. "We want to guarantee the same access to education, no matter what building they're in in the Sioux Falls school district."
Morrison hopes his findings will help serve as a wake-up call for Sioux Falls.
"It's important to create awareness because there's just an opportunity as a community to come alongside some of these schools that may not have some of the benefits our other schools have," Morrison said.
No matter how many miles apart.
DeGraff says local business support plays a big role in keeping a positive climate at Terry Redlin.
Last year, Wells Fargo gave away 19 bikes to kids with perfect attendance, and they promised to do it again at the end of this school year.
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