SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Selecting two possible boundary options for middle schools and high schools in the Sioux Falls School District was not an easy job, boundary task force member Anthony Pizer said.
Research shows that schools that are diverse, including socio-economically, produce better outcomes with students, Pizer said.
One of the goals in selecting two possible boundaries for each was to ensure ethnic diversity and equity in terms of the number of free and reduced lunches in each of the middle schools and high schools, Pizer said.
“It is challenging…,” Pizer said.
The Sioux Falls School District middle school and high school boundaries run mostly east to west now, Pizer said. The district is divided by lower socio-economic students to the north of those boundaries while those in a higher socio economic status are in the southern part of the district, Pizer said.
“(A goal was ) how can we run the boundaries more north and south rather than the current east to west,” Pizer said.
Pizer said any of the two options for middle school and high school boundaries meet district goals for ethnic diversity of students and a balance of free and reduced lunches as best as the task force was able.
Not only was finding the balance between diversity and free and reduced lunches a challenge, the task force needed to do that within other guidelines, Pizer said.
Boundaries also needed to meet American Disability Act standards for busing and walking, Pizer said, as well as a desire to keep boundaries in contiguous neighborhoods.
Although boundary options were recently released, new one emerged over the past several days. The school district released a new high school boundary last night.
Pizer said high school option C replaces B. The C option came after the school district administration received input from the task force, Pizer said. Pizer said he and other task force members who sat a table gave the school board feedback on another possible option at the third meeting of the task force.
“(Administration) took the feedback which is good…,” Pizer said.
The administration felt options A and B were too similar and replaced B with C, Pizer said.
Option C moves some of the Lincoln boundary to the west and some of the Roosevelt boundary to the north, he said.
While some people may not be supportive of the two possible middle school and high school options, Pizer said the task force needed options that best represented the 25,000 plus students in the district and the parents and others involved with those students, he said.
The new boundaries for middle school and high school will be selected by the school board in June. The boundaries will be in affect when the new middle school and high school open in the fall of 2021.
A new superintendent will join the school district in July, after the boundaries have been selected.
Pizer said it would beneficial for the new superintendent to have experience with boundary changes as the district transitions to new middle school and high school boundaries.
And, although the task force’s work is officially done, there will be members who will likely be available as resources for a new administrator and any possible new school board members after the April election, Pizer said.
While two new schools will open in 2021 with new middle school and high school boundaries, the school district appears to have some future facility needs.
In an interview about the search for a new superintendent, school board president Cynthia Mickelson said the board knows that it must review the elementary facilities and enrollment in the district.
Pizer said the task force did not consider any possible future elementary additions or changes as part of the middle school and high school boundary work. It needed to work with present conditions related to the middle school and high school, Pizer said.
Public meetings on the proposed boundaries have been set for the following dates and times: Thursday, March 12, at Memorial Middle School (1401 S. Sertoma Ave.) 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; Monday, March 16, at Patrick Henry Middle School (2200 S. 5th Ave., 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, March 26, at Whittier Middle School (930 E. 6th St.), 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; Tuesday, April 7, at McGovern Middle School (6221 W. Maple St., 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, April 9, at Edison Middle School (2101 S. West Ave.), 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.