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Sioux Falls To See New School



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On Monday night, the Sioux Falls School District board decided the fate of the three oldest elementary schools in the city, Longfellow, Jefferson and Mark Twain.

The board voted four-to-one, to move forward with the consolidation of all three schools.

Many people at the meeting talked about their concerns, including the man who worked hard to make a petition against the merging schools, David Andersen, who said he's not surprised about the outcome.

"I feel like it was an uphill battle from the start," said Andersen.

Anderson started an online petition to vote no against the Sioux Falls School District's plan to consolidate Longfellow, Jefferson and Mark Twain and he said he wishes he had more time to reach out to the public.

"I think our petition reflects a very small subset of the number of people who are somewhat interested," said Andersen.

Not only had the public voiced their concerns against getting rid of three schools to build a single one, Kate Parker, the board member who voted no, talked about the importance of preserving neighborhood schools.

"I'm not sure that we've done our job to realize what those advantages are," said Parker.

Parker’s colleague, Kent Alberty, said although the board doesn't always agree, he feels they all care about their school district.

"I don't question any of the five of us commitment to bettering our school district," said Alberty.

Even though the School Board cast their votes four-to-one to move forward with the consolidation, Andersen said he thinks everything will work out.

"I trust that the district, the administration, the board are going to execute well," said Andersen.

The Board President gives Anderson credit too, for being the voice for many against the plan.

"I appreciate him giving a vehicle to people to give input to us that aren't necessary comfortable coming to a public meeting," said Doug C. Morrison.

Morrison said merging the three schools together would save the district nearly $800,000.00 per year.

Though changes are in the near future, Andersen said his family will work through it.

"We have to adapt in life all the time and this is just another adaptation," said Andersen.

The public could still challenge the school board’s decision with a petition and 15 percent of the voters in that district would need to sign the petition in order to put the issue to a public vote.

Andersen said he's not sure if he will move forward with a petition.

The school district will now start working on building plans for a new elementary school to replace Mark Twain.

Completion is set for fall of 2015.
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