Parents object to elementary school boundary proposal in northwest corner of the city
A segment of current Renberg students would be bussed to Hawthorne before attending new school.
SIOUX FALLS – Families opposed to elementary school boundary changes, that will force their children to attend three separate schools in three years, expressed their concerns to the Sioux Falls School Board on Monday, Feb. 13.
The booming growth of Sioux Falls, particularly in the northwest corner of the school district, is forcing officials to make adjustments to a few school boundaries. The main point of contention is an area near Southeast Technical College and Jefferson High School.
The development of apartment buildings in the area has put pressure on Renberg Elementary, a small school that once served the suburban community of Renner but has been absorbed into the Sioux Falls School District.
The district is planning a new elementary school to serve the northwest neighborhood near McGovern Middle School. That school will open in the fall of 2025. In the meantime, about 70 students at Renberg will go to Hawthorne next year.
Katelyn Snook told the board she was “heartbroken” at the thoughts of two of her three children having to switch schools from Renberg to Hawthorne and then to the new school.
She said there are about 15 families that are mostly opposed to the boundary change and that they are asking the board to approve open enrollment to Renberg for next year until the new school opens.
With Renberg at overcapacity and plenty of room at Hawthorne, the parents said a big concern by the district is that a major new apartment complex by their neighborhood would further strain the Renberg school. But their suggestion besides the open enrollment is to have any new families with kids in that complex be sent to Hawthorne.
The school board doesn’t comment during the public comments at meetings, but board member Carly Reiter said there were some meetings planned with parents about the boundary changes and that there were “a lot of considerations” to be discussed before a final decision is made on the changes at its next meeting on Feb. 27, where parents can also speak.
Another parent, Kristal Schoffeitt, suggested that students at Renberg should be “grandfathered in” and stay at the school.
She and the other parents were upset that there weren't more consultations with parents before the plan was unveiled on Feb. 1.
“If parents had been part of the conversation there would have been a giant group of happy campers instead of angry people,” she said.
One reason her family moved to Sioux Falls from southern California was the district’s reputation for listening to parents before making decisions and the high level of parental participation in the schools. She suggested this one slipped through the cracks.
The boundary change for Renberg could affect about 55 students that are slated to move to Hawthorne in the fall.
The other major boundary change is on the city’s east side where Harvey Dunn has room for more students and a segment of those youngsters in the current Rosa Parks boundary will be sent there.
Only minor adjustments are needed for middle and high school boundaries on the east side.
About 150 students are affected by the proposed changes on the east side.
The city’s growth is causing the more urgent changes as around 1,000 units near Rosa Parks, for example, are planned in the coming months which could translate to an additional 200 elementary-aged kids at that school.