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Open Letter To The Sioux Falls School Board

Mark Twain Elementary School
Sioux Falls School District

 Dear Kurt, Carly, Doug, Kate, and Todd,

          Starting with a positive is always best. As a board you have done good work setting up the more advanced learning opportunities at Southeast, Career, and Tech Academy. Your leadership on bringing Chromebooks and Common Core into the curriculum is also appreciated.  

          Now the negative. The Mark Twain decision is going to come back and bite. It is a debacle. I do not use the term lightly, or in jest. Your decision making process and ability to discern is being criticized.  Community support is critical to your success and therefore the success of our students. You have ignored that important reality.  

          Neighborhoods hold a community together. Most of them derive their sense of belonging from the school down the street. That sense of belonging is critical to the attitude people have about where they live and their city.  Closing Longfellow and Jefferson was understandable in the context of demographics and efficiency. Those folks are sad, hurt, and some are angry. Two neighborhoods forever changed.

          Why did you choose to alienate a third? Clearly you had the authority. But, equally as clear, you shouldn’t have abused that authority.  It was neither necessary, prudent nor smart. To some, your decision was made out of either ignorance or arrogance. Two words which should not be associated with folks in charge of molding young minds. 

Susan B. Anthony is a wonderful name for an elementary school. It should be placed on the next elementary school in a neighborhood which does not currently have one. 

As a former elected official, I know it is hard to admit a mistake.

Here is the good news. You can change your mind, and you should. You will sleep better. The folks who voted for you will quickly accept your apology and have more trust in your future deliberations and decisions. A win for all of us, especially the children we have entrusted to you.

Call a meeting, eat some humble pie, apologize, change the vote, and move on. It is the right thing to do for the community and more importantly, it will send a good message to the children.  

Sincerely,

Rick W. Knobe

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