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Construction begins on new South Dakota School for the Blind

October 18, 2018

ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — The South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired has started construction on a new $13 million school to replace its existing facility.

School officials, along with leaders from Northern State University, held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday. The new facility is being built in partnership with the university and is expected to be completed next year, Aberdeen American News reported .

The school and the university are jointly fundraising for the project, which is being built on the university’s campus. The School for the Blind is being moved from its current location just south of the university’s campus.

The fundraising is part of a $45 million capital campaign that the university is overseeing. About $35 million has been raised so far, according to Northern State. The city of Aberdeen recently pledged $5 million to the campaign, which was followed by a $2.5 million commitment from Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

“We have a responsibility to make life better for people if we have the ability to do it,” said Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen. “In my mind, we have a responsibility to take the resources we have and do absolutely as much as we can, absolutely as fast as we can.”

The new school represents a continuation of a partnership with Northern State University that started in 1961, said Marje Kaiser, superintendent of the School for the Blind.

Kaiser said she hopes the facility features subtle ways to help students navigate their new environment and learn to live independently.

Northern State officials followed Wednesday’s ceremony by announcing plans to expand the university’s master’s program in special education to include an emphasis on teaching students with visual impairments.

“The School of Education is working hard to see how we can make a more robust program,” said Northern State President Tim Downs.

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Information from: Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com

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