What does the future hold for our school districts in the face of an aging population?

The Governor recently spoke to students and faculty out at the High School in Spearfish - here's what the Black Hills Pioneer had to say about it:
With nearly 60 faculty, staff, administrators and community members in attendance, Rounds spent almost three hours in Spearfish in order to address local education issues. One of the main points the governor continued to express was how well Spearfish students are excelling academically despite the tough budget cuts.


Spearfish High School junior Paul Gainey sat with his fellow debate team members and also inquired about the state's contribution to education. He asked the Governor for advice on how a community such as Spearfish, with nearly 80 percent of its population living in retirement, can get additional funding when an opt out is simply not possible.

Though Rounds couldn't give a clear answer, he did note that he is optimistic about the future of South Dakota Schools.

With the state education funding formula based on enrollment, Rounds explained that is the largest issue facing most school districts today. He recommended the audience plan for the future and take action right now and consider all of the options.
Read the entire story here.

That is a tough one as the student brought up - with an aging population who is going to be extremely resistant to property tax opt outs, what's a school district to do? Do communities stand the chance of becoming segregated by age?

I think we see it in smaller communities as the in-town population ages, they don't want to support improvements for schools because "it was good enough for them," despite the fact that had been 50 years before, and now the school is falling down.

And then they lament as the town dies, because no one will locate there.

I've always thought a novel idea would be to create a fund which schools could access money to assist replacing dilapidated or condemned schools. But then again if the town is dying, will a new school stave off the inevitable? And could it even be a silly waste of tax dollars?


Anonymous said…
Rounds "couldn't give a clear answer." How indicative of our governor.
Rounds has failed again and again to show any leadership on any issue.
Anonymous said…
That's a common complaint when anyone talks to the Gov. If you've forgotten, Denise Ross has complained about it before:


Here’s the deal. Mike Rounds, with his lifetime of insurance salesman habits, is often maddening to cover. Ask one question and get a rambling, largely nonsensical answer — all with a nonstop smile — that so exhausts you, you quake at the tought of a follow-up for clarification. Your thoughts wander to what you might want for dinner, and you think, “Aw, f— it. I’ll print his entire ramble and let the readers sort it out.”

The halls of the Capitol are full of “how Mike Rounds drove me nuts” stories.

And she's right. I've spoken with several people who've gone in with this mental midget, and explained something important to South Dakota, and he just glazes over, and gives a hearty "thanks for coming in."

Maybe people are going to realize someday that "goals" are not accomplishments, and that he's little more than the cardboard cutout he appears to be as he's incessantly pictured handing out "atta boy" certificates.
Anonymous said…
This past session Paul Dennert was the prime sponsor HB 1159. This would have created the facility equity fund to provide financial assistance to certain school districts with critical capital construction needs.
Anonymous said…
We complain about an aging population and lower numbers of students in our schools, but we kill around 800 babies a year in SD. Doesn't make sense to me.
William said…
One item I'd like to see considered is using our statewide network to provide lessons taught by our best teachers, regardless of where they're located, available to all schools in the state. Not all schools have to have a big infrastructure to provide a good education. A return to "One Room" schoolhouses wouldn't neccessarily be a bad thing, if done right.
nonnie said…
Has anybody in their eminent wisdom in Pierre ever thought that the whole issue with school funding is the way it is funded. On the backs of property owners in the form of property tax. Find another way to more equitably fund the school system in the state, and it might eliminate a whole raft of problems.

Our school district wanted to build a new gym, and it went to a vote and was soundy defeated because the people paying the lion's share of the cost were the property taxpayers, not the people who wanted or would benefit from the gym itself.

People defeat opt outs for the same reason. The same people are asked to pay for them, while others pay nothing. Instead of school officials complaining, why not take a different tack with the legislature/governor and find another way to pay for some of eduation's costs.

Or put all extracurriculars outside of the school system and make them private. Of course, that will never happen because they are untouchable and viewed as part of a free public education, which in reality they were never meant to be. Or consolidate admistrative duties between school districts, again never happen because of each school won't give up any of its supposed power.

I've been saying put a nickle tax on a bottle/can of pop. I know, another sin tax, but other states do it for recycling. We could do it and dedicate all proceeds to schools on a simple per student basis. Collect it in a separate account, pay it out once or twice a year. Simple in, simple out. Not much overhead. And that's one sin tax I'd pay because I do love my Mt Dew. The cost of pop varies so much from store to store anyway that we wouldn't even miss the extra nickel.
VJ said…
Nonnie, you are correct! The main problem (there are other problems) with education in South Dakota is how it is funded. . Funding education on the backs of property owners in the form of property tax is probably unfair. Now we can argue all we want to about a possible income tax, but at this time it just simply won’t pass in South Dakota. Other funding alternatives have to be looked at.

Your idea to “put all extracurriculars outside of the school system and make them private” should be considered. Yes, I know, I have heard all the statistics about how activities are a small part of the overall school budget. But the taxpayers “paying for activities” just doesn’t sit right with a lot of people and might be one reason why they vote “NO” on funding issues. Just remember that some of the best high school extracurricular activity programs in the state over the past few years are private funded programs! The do not receive any taxpayer money! Their funding comes from those that support the activities, not from everyone that lives in the area!

Nonnie, I like your idea to “put a nickel tax on a bottle/can of pop.” I am sure that I drink more pop than the average person does and I wouldn’t have a problem if a tax were added to the pop. I don’t know how much money it would raise, but it’s sure something to think about.

We are not going to see much consolidation or sharing of administrative staff until the local taxpayer says “enough”. They don’t seem to have much of a problem paying the bill so I guess they would have the right to keep on paying the extra cost. Yes, they have high property taxes in their district, but they are willing to pay the additional cost to keep their school. They are paying the bill, not us! And that’s probably way it should be!
Anonymous said…
I suggest looking what a can of pop cost to produce and what the comsumers paysfor it then you will be amazed.
Add a nickel per hummmmm

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