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Proposal To Close SD School For The Deaf

January 22, 2009, 5:57 PM by Don Jorgensen

Proposal To Close SD School For The Deaf
The Governor proposes closing the South Dakota School for the Deaf to save the state $2 million a year.  The idea has shocked many, including students who currently attend the school. But the state has a plan for them and says it was only a matter of time before the school was going to close anyway. 

For more than a century, the South Dakota School for the Deaf has served thousands of children and their families. 

But the state could close the school because of declining numbers. Currently only 30 students attend the school.

Don Jorgensen: Are you disappointed? 
Keegan Sparks: Yeah.
Don Jorgensen:  Because you're going to have to go to Washington?
Sparks:  Which is hard to communicate because I'm hard of hearing and he's deaf and a lot of us will have to go to public schools or another school for the deaf. 

The plan is to have the students attend their respective public school districts. For Sparks, that means going to Washington. 

"I knew it would close because the high school group is too small," Sparks said. 

While some students are disappointed, members of the Board of Regents say for some, closing the school will be best for them in the long run. 

"We will make sure the child gets the educational experience as equal to what they were getting at the school and hopefully better," Executive Director of the South Dakota Board of Regents Tad Perry said. 

Perry says the state will help those students transition back into their school through an outreach program. 

"We'll rebuild that staff, a deaf education specialist, audiologist who will go out and work with the families and their children to make sure they are getting the education experience that they should have," Perry said. 

If the legislature approves of the governor's recommendation, the school will officially close July 1, leaving about 20 people out of work. 

Perry says there are almost 400 deaf students who already attend their own school districts across the state.

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