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Improvement Plan Would Close Elementaries

July 23, 2012, 9:18 PM by Kelly Bartnick

Improvement Plan Would Close Elementaries

A new elementary school could soon rise up in central Sioux Falls. But it comes at the expense of three older buildings.

The school board informally discussed a tentative plan to replace Mark Twain and Longfellow Elementary Schools Monday.

“They're just not able to maintain the growth we're seeing in our district,” Sioux Falls School Board member Kate Parker said.

Parker says they're also expensive to maintain. Both schools need updating, and estimates to renovate them could top $4 million each. Parker says a tentative replacement plan would put a new, larger elementary school on the site of Mark Twain Elementary.

“It has a bigger plot of land that we can work with. And we can build a bigger school while Mark Twain and Longfellow are actually still in session,” Parker said.

That new building is estimated to cost $10 million. Parker says it would be more efficient than the old buildings. The district would also save in operating costs.

“This is a very hard decision for me because I'm looking at it as a parent whose son goes to Longfellow and also a board member who has to look at the needs of our district, students, and all that,” Parker said.

Superintendent Pam Homan also wants to close Jefferson Elementary because enrollment there is on the decline. Jefferson students would go to Mark Twain and Laura Wilder.

But the plan is very preliminary. Parker says such a drastic proposal will be carefully considered before any action is taken. She expects more discussion in September.

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