The Black Hills Pioneer reports that three new Meade School District members who are concerned about the funding of rural schools want to talk about doing the worst thing possible for the funding of rural schools: form a new district out in rural Meade County:
“We have a group of people who have been talking about being their own school district,” Superintendent Jeff Simmons said Wednesday.
He said the item about the district boundary was placed on the agenda at the request of the new school board members – John Nachtigall of Elm Springs, Lee Spring of Atall, and J.T. Vig of Opal. All three live in rural areas of Meade County east of Sturgis. They have been vocal about their concerns of underfunding of the rural schools [Deb Holland, “Rural Meade Residents Want School Boundaries Changed,” Black Hills Pioneer, 2019.07.12].
I’d sure like the folks out in the middle of Meade County to have their own K-12 school district so they wouldn’t have to truck all the way in to Sturgis for high school. I’d also like the nice folks in Elm Springs and Opal to have their own grocery store and movie theater and go-kart palace. But the numbers don’t seem to be there:
Student enrollment at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year in the rural schools showed Opal had 15 students; Hereford, 15; Elm Springs, 14; Atall, 11; Union Center and Enning, 48 — a total of 103 [Holland, 2019.07.12].
Right now, those 103 scattered rural children and their parents enjoy the benefits of participating in a much larger school district that can hire more teachers and pay them more than any collective effort those rural families could make on their own. If the OHESAUCE parents decide to secede from the Meade School District, they’ll be calling Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden for Legislative favors just like Rep. Spencer Gosch had to arrange last year to save his only slightly larger Herreid School District from closure.
Far be it from me to stand in the way of anyone’s effort at independence. But an independent school district in the sparse middle of Meade County is not an effective use of public resources.