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SF School Board Seeks Public Input

September 10, 2012, 5:52 PM by David Brown

SF School Board Seeks Public Input

The school year just got underway in Sioux Falls, but we're still learning about the future of some elementary schools.

A proposed consolidation plan would close Longfellow and Jefferson Elementary Schools. It would also replace Mark Twain with a larger building.  Monday night, concerned parents and teachers will get a chance to voice their opinions at the Instructional Planning Center.

The Sioux Falls School Board will open up for public input. And while there's bound to be plenty of emotion, board members hope it will be a civil discussion.

It's a lesson children are taught in school every day: to share their thoughts and ideas. And now the Sioux Falls School Board is hoping to hear more information about their schools.

"The more input we can get from the parents and public, the better we can serve the constituents and that's the parents," Sioux Falls school board member Kent Alberty said.

The Instructional Planning Center will become an open forum. And the voices bound to be loudest are those in support of Longfellow and Mark Twain Elementary Schools.

"Each one of them require between $4-5 million improvements," Sioux Falls school board president Doug Morrison said. "And so, the board has to really look hard at if we want to make those investments into schools in areas where there might be declining enrollment."

Morrison says budgets are still tight all across South Dakota and Monday night's discussion is a matter of efficiency.

"The board hasn't made any decisions," Morrison said. "I think we had to start somewhere, so we started with a straw man of, 'If we did this, this would happen.' So, I think it'll be a good meeting; the board is open to anything."

This is the first of two scheduled open discussions this month. And while there's no exact timetable for making a decision, the passion of parents and teachers expected at the meeting won't die down any time soon.

"We certainly know the parents in those neighborhoods are passionate about having a neighborhood school that's close to them," Morrison said. "But we also want to provide them with a first-rate facility."

"I don't look for it to be contentious at all," Alberty said. "I think there will be parents that are passionate; that certainly doesn't mean it'll be contentious."

In addition to the possible closure of different elementary schools, there will also be discussion on the Spanish Immersion Program having its own school. It's currently divided between Rosa Parks and Robert Frost Elementaries.

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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