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New School Year Brings Some Concerns

August 20, 2012, 6:02 PM by Nicole Winters

New School Year Brings Some Concerns
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

It's back to school for students in the Sioux Falls School District. Kids filed into class bright and early Monday morning. While a new year brings plenty of excitement, it also brings some unknowns for the schools that could find out this year if they'll be closing in the future.

As the final school bell rings on the first day of class, kids rush from the building to tell their parents about their day.

"He's been very excited for this day," Matthew Baumgartner said.

Students like Baumgartner's first-grade son still have plenty of excitement to burn after seeing old friends and meeting new teachers.  While there's plenty to celebrate, the new year also brings some unknowns for Longfellow Elementary School.

"I think it would be really a shame to see the school, and then the historic building, and lose all of that in this neighborhood. It would really be disappointing," Baumgartner said.

The Sioux Falls School Board could decide this school year whether to close Longfellow and Jefferson Elementary Schools in the future, and replace Mark Twain with a newer, larger building.

The district has cited declining enrollment and much needed improvements in the very old buildings as the reasons.

A board-commissioned study says extending the life of Longfellow and Mark Twain by 20 years could cost $4 million per building. They say one new school may be a better investment.

But Principal Jeff Sheets says it's only one plan, and it's too soon to be concerned.

"Honestly, myself and our staff, we're just focused on this year, making this year as best as possible," Sheets said.

Sarah Antelope's two daughters are attending Longfellow for the first time. While she likes the neighborhood school she's not concerned about what the future holds.

"As long as there's a school available for them to go to, I'm ok," Antelope said.

For the kids, they're just excited to share the best parts of their first day.

"We ate lunch, and played outside a lot," Dasani said.

This is just one plan the district is looking at.  Public input sessions will be held September 10 and 24 at 7 p.m.  The meetings will be held at the district's Instructional Planning Center.

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