Growth of Sioux Falls forcing boundary changes for city's elementary schools
The revisions are necessary to be ready for students in the fall, school district officials say.
SIOUX FALLS — The growing and shifting population in the city is forcing the Sioux Falls School District to adjust boundaries for several elementary schools for next year.
The school board got its first look at proposed revisions in the boundaries on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
Families that are affected by the changes will be notified by email and a mailed letter. The emails are scheduled to go out Thursday, Feb. 2, with the physical notification to follow.
The school board will take public input on the changes at its regular meeting on Feb. 13 and then again on Feb. 27, when final approval will be considered.
Rapid housing growth, particularly multi-family and apartment complexes, in the northwest and east edges of the district, is causing the needs to adjust, said Jamie Nold, assistant superintendent for administrative services.
“We have to prepare for that and if we don’t change some of those boundaries we will be forced to do something in the fall,” Nold said in an interview. “We want to make sure people have information well in advance.”
The city’s population is growing around 6,000 people every year, which is a major contributor to a tight housing market in the city.
Not all those new homes are in the district, but many of them are.
More people requires more schools, but that’s only part of the issue, Nold said.
Expansion and new housing also lures people to move from one part of the district to another, which in general means families are going from older neighborhoods to newer ones.
That means some of the schools in the city’s core, such as Hawthorne and Cleveland, have room while those in the outer rim, such as John Harris, Pettigrew or Rosa Parks are at capacity.
About 70 students at Renberg will go to Hawthorne next year. Renberg, in the northern tip of the district, is a small school that used to serve the Renner community.
Growth is exploding in the northwest sector of Sioux Falls where a new elementary school was recently approved by the school board. But that’s going to take a few years. In the meantime, a portion of those students, who will eventually attend the new school, will go to Hawthorne, which is just west of downtown.
On the east side, Harvey Dunn has room as students in that surrounding neighborhood move on to middle school. Nearby Rosa Parks, however, will see an influx because of large apartment developments. So the plan calls for a segment of the students who would have attended Rosa Parks, will now go to Harvey Dunn.
Only minor adjustments are needed for middle and high school boundaries on the east side.
Students will be grandfathered into the school they previously attended if that’s what their family prefers.
The changes on the east side affect about 150 students, Nold said.
“We need to open up some space,” he said.
“The one thing we don’t want to do is come to the fall and have any family say, hey wait a minute there’s no space for my kid to be in this school. We have to have space for them in the school.”
The city’s growth has ramped up in recent years.
That evidence of that was the $1.9 billion in building permits in 2022, a record for the city by a huge margin.
That number was driven by some large commercial developments, such as the Cherapa complex and the Steel District. But multi-family housing is also part of the equation.
The permit numbers got the attention of the school district, said Nold.
“We were anticipating that we could probably hold on to many of these things at least for another year to give us more time,” he said.
But the pace of building moved up that decision, including around 1,000 units near Rosa Parks. That could translate to an additional 200 elementary-aged kids, Nold said.
“We have to prepare for that and if we don’t change some of those boundaries we will be forced to do something in the fall,” he said. “We want to make sure people have information well in advance.”
- To see more details on the boundary changes, go to quorum.sparqdata.com/Public/Agenda/siouxfalls?meeting=568221.
- To find out what schools your home is assigned to, go to boundaries.sf.k12.sd.us/livewq/webquery/.