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Merging SF Schools Raise Parent Concerns

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The Sioux Falls school board will shut down two of the oldest elementary schools in the city, Longfellow and Jefferson.

The board has also decided to build a new Mark Twain to replace the current one in the coming years.

It was a full house at Monday night’s meeting and after some debate, the board voted four-to-one to move forward with the consolidation of all three schools, Jefferson, Longfellow and Mark Twain.

For some parents, this vote would cause them challenges in the near future.

"We were hoping she'd be able to finish and that her brother would be able to go here as well," said Mauricio-Robles.

Shanda Mauricio-Robles, moved to Sioux Falls from Las Vegas, NV in September, hoping to give her kids a better learning experience.

She said she was disappointed when she heard the news about her children's school, Jefferson Elementary, shutting down.

"This is so much better that's one of the reasons we actually moved here was because of the kids and the schools," said Mauricio-Robles.

Her daughter Savannah, who is a fourth grader, will be able to finish school at Jefferson, but her three-and-a-half-year-old son, Junior, will have to go somewhere else.

"We're not sure where he'll go because he does have speech therapy," said Mauricio-Robles.

The board's vote to merge the elementary schools results from aging buildings, declining enrollment and a savings of nearly $800,000.00 per year.

Sioux Falls School Board member, Kent Alberty assured the new school will be state-of-the-art, placed in the core of the city, offering modern classrooms, technology improvements and greater accessibility.

"If there is one spot in a school that not every child that may want to go there can access, than we haven't done are best work as a school board," said Alberty.

As for Mauricio-Robles, although she's disappointed in the board's decision, she's optimistic about her kids's future.

"I really wish they would change their mind but that's not going to happen so we'll just hopefully have to find a school as good as this one," said Mauricio-Robles.    

The school district will now start working on building plans for a new elementary school to replace Mark Twain.
The total cost estimate for the new school is $12.8 Million, which comes from the school district's capitol improvements fund.

 The new school should be ready to open in the fall of 2015.
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