Sioux Falls parents react to vote to consolidate three schools - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Sioux Falls parents react to vote to consolidate three schools

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The Sioux Falls school board has spoken.  The fate of several schools in the district was decided tonight.

The school board has been looking at declining enrollment in some neighborhoods and growth in others.

KSFY News was at the meeting to hear how one neighborhood will be affected.

The school board held a meeting Monday to vote on the future of many schools in the school district.

One item on the agenda that had parents concerned was the consolidation of the Mark Twain and Longfellow schools.

Hearing the vote to rebuild one school and close another was not an easy thing to hear for most parents.

School board president Doug Morrison called for the vote.  "I'm going to go ahead and call for the vote. All those in favor signify by saying 'aye.' Opposed, same sign.  And abstentions, none, so motion passes, four to one.

And with that vote, the fate of Mark Twain and Longfellow elementary schools was decided by the school board. Mark Twain parent Wade Paulson says combining the two schools into one is not practical.

"Right now the teachers park on the street. they have two small playground equipment pieces and a little bit of a field. to double the size of students, double the faculty, logistically I just don't see it as a very practical thing to do," Paulson said.

Jon Duwitz says his daughters benefit from the smaller class sizes at Longfellow.

"My daughter is in a great class. My two daughters left there and went into the gifted program so the education there. I heard a comment that it was sub par or not as good which is why some students are not going there, but it's just not true," Duwitz said.

Deciding the fate of Longfellow was not an easy one for board member Kate Parker.

"On one hand, I understand the efficiencies. I get that from a budget standpoint. I also see a brand new school for my sons to go to, but I also see the impact it's going to have on my neighborhood, in Longfellow.  It's going to have an impact on the Mark Twain neighborhood," Parker said.

And the future of the neighborhood is what concerns parent Vernon Brown.

"My concern is really about the neighborhood. I have confidence that the school board will keep good schools no matter where they build them. My bigger concern is that they never had any discussion prior to an email that I sent to the city, about how that land or buildings, what would be the future of those?," Brown said.

School board president Doug Morrison says the vote tonight is forward thinking.

He says the district's plan will allow them to invest in the core.

He also says tight budgets cause them to look for efficiencies every year and sometimes they have to squeeze out those efficiencies.

He admits it's just part of their job.

The school district plans to tear down Mark Twain and replace it with a larger school in the same spot by 2015.

Also, Jefferson Elementary is scheduled to ring it's last bell by summer of 2016. A decision on how that site will be used in the future has not been decided by the school district.

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