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Neighbors Unsure About School Consolidation

July 24, 2012, 9:59 PM by Brady Mallory

Neighbors Unsure About School Consolidation

Two of the oldest elementary schools in Sioux Falls could be experiencing big changes.  To keep up with growth, School Board Members have talked about closing Longfellow Elementary and sending those students to a bigger school that would be built on the Mark Twain Elementary site.

Some people think the schools mean more than just an education.

"It's just nice to see a school that has some character," Dena Hilscher said.

This mom of three, who lives just a few steps across the street from Longfellow, said it is what is inside that counts.

"What I loved about the school was the small community it created.  It was a place where everyone knew my kids," Hilscher said.

It's been years since she watched her kids walk to the school across the street, but the idea is still hard to process.  According to school board officials, Longfellow and Mark Twain Elementary, both more than 90 years old, are expensive and each need about $4 million in updates. One idea would put a larger $10 million elementary school in place of the current Mark Twain Elementary.

"You're going to lose the neighborhood school.  They'll all be bussed from different areas and you will lose that neighborhood feel," Hilscher said.

Rose Williams lives down the street and said even when the books are not cracked and school is not in session, the playground is a huge draw for neighborhood kids.

"Even with the mild winter we had last year, a lot of kids were going up and using the playground and riding their bikes around," Rose Williams said.

Williams wants to see district officials make the upgrades and keep these schools.

"It's a generational-type neighborhood.  You've got grandparents and then they pass their houses on to their kids who are there with the grandkids.  It's a staple in the neighborhood," Williams said.

Superintendent Pam Homan also wants to close Jefferson Elementary because enrollment is declining. Jefferson students would go to Mark Twain and Laura Wilder. School Board Member Kate Parker said such a drastic plan will have plenty of consideration before it would be approved.

KELOLAND News mapped Sioux Falls' Elementary Schools.  Check out when each was built in the map below.

View SF Elementary School Construction Dates in a larger map

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