Sioux Falls School Plan Has Big Sticker Shock [OPNION]
The task force charged with assessing the building needs of the Sioux Falls Public School District released their report last week.
And it was a doozy.
The final price tag -- if this were to go through -- is $190 million.
That's a big number. But it's not the whole story, to be sure.
First, we know we’re going to need some new schools. The numbers don’t lie. Second, the number is going to scare the crap out of people.
The challenge for the district and Superintendent Brian Maher is to sell it. That’s going to take a lot. They’re doing all the right things in mind in terms of getting community input and buy-in. The problem is that there are lot of people who aren’t going to pay attention to any of that – they’re not going to give input or study – they’re just going to look at the number, yearn for the old days, and vote no.
The other big problem is they have to get 60 percent. That’s a big hill on the best days.
That said, it really is a minor individual investment in order to have quality schools.
I’m happy that they are committed to the Whittier site. The biggest mistake we could make right now would be to back down from investment in the core. It’s a major challenge for city government as well. But the schools and the city must work hand in hand on this issue. It’s a big one and not easily addressed. But it would be a big step backward to continue to press development in the fringes without committing to the middle.
Open enrollment is a problem in Sioux Falls. We see that not just in the influx of students but in the movement within the city.
It could be argued that it would be much worse if those kids were enrolling into the suburban districts – meaning we had a net loss of kids – but it presents problems nonetheless.
In my mind, the state needs to revisit open enrollment, at least make it tougher.
But that’s not the issue before us today. The issue is 190 million.
It’s also quite possible the school board itself will scale it back for the sake of lowering the sticker shock.
But all in all, at this early stage, I’d vote for it.
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