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Castlewood Approves Smaller School Bond, Thanks to Voters Not Distracted by Basketball

After rejecting an $8-million bond issue last March to fix up their tornado-ravaged school, Castlewood voters this week approved a $6-million bond with exactly the 60% approval it needed:

Superintendent Peter Brooks said 315 of the 525 total voters approved the bond. The bond money will be used for improvements as part of an overall project to repair damage and replace what was lost in the May 2022 tornado that struck the school [Rae Yost, “$6M Bond Passes for Classrooms, Gym for Castlewood,” KELO-TV, 2023.10.26].

Brooks says this issue passed in part because the district answered the public’s questions better and in part because of higher turnout:

The bond drew 105 more voters this week, he said.

The bad weather was a factor in March and on election Tuesday, and, also, the school’s boys basketball team was in a playoff game at Fort Pierre, Brooks said [Yost, 2023.10.26].

Funny that bad weather would deter people from a ten-minute drive to the polls but not a three-hour drive to a basketball game.

But hey—lower the cost, schedule your vote on a clear day with no big games, and maybe you can get a school bond to pass in South Dakota on the second try.

The Oldham-Ramona-Rutland district less than an hour south of Castlewood is taking its second stab at a school bond issue next month. The ORR board is lowering its bond request by 15%… but there were no playoffs conflicting with their first vote in September.


  1. Ben Cerwinske 2023-10-27 10:47

    While I agree people should be more politically active, I’ll offer a counterpoint. Engaging in the political process often feels like trying to fill a bucket with a hole in it. Some of us just accept that reality and try to do our best. I’m sympathetic to the idea that watching kids you know participate in something in the here and now can feel like the safer bet regardless of how long it takes to get there.

  2. Rambler 2023-10-27 11:55

    Kudos to the voters of the Castlewood School on their vision in approving Tuesday’s bond election. It’s difficult in the best of times to vote to increase your own taxes which they did. This was their opportunity to reconstruct their campus for the future and they rise to the challenge. My thought has always been that 30% if a school district’s voters are usually a hard no on both bond elections and opt-out votes. That only leaves 10% of voters to join them to torpedo a bond vote. The minority rule aspect of bond elections needs to be changed.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2023-10-27 17:51

    Castlewood has literally voted to keep their school for another couple of generations. that is a brave bet, and a visionary stement.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2023-10-27 17:53

    “visionary statement”….pardon me.

  5. SD Outlaw 2023-10-27 21:34

    The Castlewood bond is a 6 million dollar project compared to the ORR project that will cost taxpayers 27 million. ORR superintendent claims 322 is the enrollment. This enrollment number includes 75 colony kids that will never attend this school. Also this enrollment number includes 130 open enrollment students which leaves only 120 in district students. With the location of this new site there is a possibility of losing more in district students. This is a 30 million dollar bet on open enrollment students that taxpayers don’t really want to make. The ORR bond vote will go down again

  6. Algebra 2023-10-29 06:17

    SD Outlaw recognizes the problem: operating schools in towns that can’t sustain grocery stores. People who think if they lose their school they will lose their town don’t understand they lost their town when they stopped shopping there.

    I will never forget V.J. Smith saying he couldn’t believe the resistance to school consolidation that came from communities “still mad about a football game they played in 1978.”

    Building schools in towns that could be better served by two or three new school buses is a waste of money.

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