The number of public school districts in South Dakota has dropped from 149 to 148, as Oldham-Ramona and Rutland have officially consolidated. The two schools have been doing sports and prom together for some time, so merging classroom activities shouldn’t be too hard of a transition.
Last year, Rutland ranked 125th statewide in enrollment with 189 students in pre-K through grade 12. Oldham-Ramona ranked 138th with 157 kids. The Department of Education will count official enrollment for the 2023–2024 school year at the end of September, but based on last year’s enrollment, the new Oldham-Ramona-Rutland school district would rank 81st in enrollment, nearly matching Howard, Kimball, and Alcester-Hudson in size and surpassing nearby Castlewood, DeSmet, Arlington, and Colman-Egan.
Curiously, the new district is still offering K-12 classes at both of its buildings, in Ramona and Rutland. District voters will decide next month if they want to spend $18.8 million to build a new unified school building on Highway 81:
…the district is holding a bond election Sept. 12 for the district’s more than 700 voters to decide if a new $18.8 million K-12 school should open by fall 2025.
District officials hope to purchase about 20 acres of land near U.S. Highway 81 and Nunda Corner to build the new school on, [ORR school board president Lance] Hageman said. It will be up to the district’s stakeholders to decide what to do with the old school buildings when a new one is built.
If the bond passes, taxes in Rutland will remain about the same because of an opt-out the district had before it consolidated, Hageman explained. Taxes in the old Oldham-Ramona district would likely go up, he added, to about $1.03 per $1,000 valuation.
If the bond doesn’t pass, the district would need to consider continuing to update and fix the buildings it already has that could fail or be condemned, which doesn’t make fiscal sense, according to the district’s consolidation document [Morgan Matzen, “Two of South Dakota’s Smallest School Districts Are Consolidating. Here’s Why,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2023.08.11].
ORR will hold a community meeting to discuss the new building proposal on August 28 at 6 p.m. at the DSU Tunheim Building in Madison. That’s also the deadline for registering to vote in the ORR bond election.