Virtual boundary input meetings set for SF school district

KELOLAND.com Original

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Virtual meetings will replace face-to-face meetings on proposed new boundaries for Sioux Falls School District middle schools and high schools.

District superintendent Dr. Brian Maher said in a news briefing on Monday the virtual meetings will be broadcast on KLRN-TV and through the Sioux Falls School District’s YouTube channel. Residents will be able to submit questions. Detailed instructions for calling in and watching online will be featured on the front page of the District’s website at least 24-hours prior to each meeting.

The meetings are set for:

  • Monday, May 4, at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 9, at 10 a.m.
  • Monday, May 11, at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 14, at noon
  • Monday, May 18, at 7 p.m.

The district’s task force has been working on new boundaries during this school year. It will meet again on May 26 after the virtual public input meetings are completed.

Maher said the school board plans to select a new middle school boundary and new high school boundary in June.

District officials and task force members won’t have face-to-face encounters or be able to see body language of meeting attendees but will be able to receive feedback from district residents, Maher said.

“At the first of those five meetings, it’s possible we won’t be able to get to all of the callers,” Maher said.

Officials will make adjustments after the meetings and work to ensure that questions are answered, he said.

Public input meetings on proposed new boundaries aren’t the only dates impacted by COVID-19.

Maher said at Monday night’s meeting, the school board is expected to set a fall start date of Aug. 27 for the 2020-2021 school year.

The district has experience with starting after Labor Day and that could happen next fall because of COVID-19, Maher said.

A third possibility is to start with remote school in the fall.

“That would be more problematic than jumping into in March,” Maher said of remote learning in the fall.

In March, teachers and students had already established relationships and students had been using technology in the school, Maher said. There wouldn’t be established relationships in the fall and checking out technology devices to students would be more difficult, Maher said.

Although the fall school situation is still cloudy, “the most recent (COVID-19) news gives us some reason to be optimistic (for an Aug. 27) start,” Maher said.

The district has already decided to have a virtual graduation on May 24 with the possibility of an in-person graduation in June or July. The in-person option depends on the COVID-19 situation.

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