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Deadline Nears for Petition To Change SF School Start Date

May 7, 2014, 6:00 PM by Hailey Higgins

Deadline Nears for Petition To Change SF School Start Date

Sioux Falls voters have just a few days to sign a petition that could change the first day of school.

A group of concerned parents is sending out 500 petitions, asking for signatures to put the issue on the ballot next year.

They're upset that school isn't starting after Labor Day Weekend.

Right now, the group estimates members have collected about 3,500 signatures. That's about 1,000 short of the number needed to bring the issue to the nearest school election, scheduled for next year.

"It is a lot of work. It's a small time frame. I mean, it is more signatures than you need for the U.S. Senate in less time," Wendy McDonnel said.

The mother of two is among several volunteers passing around hundreds of petitions, gathering signatures to allow Sioux Falls voters to decide when school should start.

If the school calendar starts after Labor Day, she insists families would have nicer weather during summer break and local businesses would get a boost.

“Our hope is that people have a voice who don't necessarily feel like they get to have one," McDonnel said.

Concerns were raised in April, after the Sioux Falls School Board approved the school schedule for the next three years -- all starting before Labor Day.

"It just makes sense from a lot of different angles," School Board President Doug Morrison said.

Morrison says the current calendar benefits students academically, who take end-of-semester tests before the long Christmas break.

It's also the same schedule the district has always used, he adds.

"They have the right to petition it to put it on the ballot," Morrison said. "We respect that and if it goes for a vote, it will be ultimately incumbent on us to state the case for our community from an academic education standpoint why our calendar makes sense."

The deadline to submit the signatures is Friday at 5:00 p.m.

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