Sioux Falls School District sees growth in both enrollment and diversity

Published: Oct. 28, 2019 at 9:36 PM CDT
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More than 24,000 students now attend the Sioux Falls School District.

Not only has the district grown in the number of students, but it also has become more diverse.

According to the school district, the school hallways now see more than 190 more students this year than last.

"Since 1990, we have a top accumulative growth of over 9000 to 9054, Ryan Knutson, Sioux Falls School District senior director of information and technology, said. "And that is the first time our accumulative growth has been above 9,000 that just shows you how much the district has grown over those last 19 years."

Because of that growth, we're now seeing construction begin on both Ben Reifel Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School. The district number released last month says roughly 60% of students are white, and nearly 40% are non-white.

"In terms of diversity we have seen over time, our numbers increase over one to two percent," DeeAnn Konrad, Sioux Falls School District community relations and community education department supervisor, said. "This year, it is a strong two percent, and the largest jump is in our Hispanic population."

The Hispanic population has grown from 11.4% last year to 12.6% in 2019. More than 91 different languages can be heard inside the homes of students in the district. And with more than 2,500 ELL students, the school district is making it a priority to help ELL students achieve in the classroom.

"So, some of those are starting out with the very basics," Konrad said.

"Learning 'A' learning 'apple' and some are further along in their process. So, our goal is to move those students into a traditional classroom because we know that once they're in a traditional classroom. They can get language support from their peers."

"Our middle schools are more diverse than our high schools, and our elementary schools are more diverse than our middle schools," Dr. Brian Maher, Sioux Falls School District superintendent, said. "So, this isn't just a bubble; this is a new reality as a city, our new reality as a school district. We are becoming more and more diverse."

The school district says both ACT and AP scores for the community are still above national and state averages.