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December 11, 2012 10:31 PM

City, School Talk About Possible Longfellow Sale

Sioux Falls, SD

A property purchase or transfer may be in store between Sioux Falls and the city’s school district. City planning and economic development officials talked with Sioux Falls School District officials about the possible sale of Longfellow Elementary when the school moves out in 2015.

The school district wants to combine Longfellow students with others at a new building.

Sioux Falls Economic Development Director Darrin Smith says the district came forward with the idea. The city now has to decide whether it wants the property.

“Are there any potential city government uses for this property? So that would be the first step,” Smith told the Sioux Falls City Council during its weekly informational session Tuesday.

“It's obviously a big decision,” Smith said. “It's not one we would take lightly. I think there would be several steps in the process that would include the city council.”

Smith says district officials have no future use planned for the building. The price could be as low as $1; maybe less. Even with that bargain, some counselors see dollar signs.

“In the past when we've received free property or low-priced property; we end up spending millions. So that's a concern I have,” City Council Member Kermit Staggers said.

A new multi-million dollar elementary will be built just blocks away from Longfellow on the Mark Twain Elementary School site. City council members say despite that investment, the proposal also brings up an issue they don't like facing core neighborhoods as the district closes older, smaller buildings, moving many students to the edge of town.

“As the school district leaves our central corridor, expands to the outer edges, what is going to happen with all those properties?” City Council Member Kenny Anderson, Jr. asked.

“They've had other interested parties approach them.  But before they went down that path, which is an unfamiliar one, they wanted to reach out,” Smith said.

The school consolidation/closure plan also involves Jefferson Elementary. Smith says the district does not want to sell or give up that building for the city's use.

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