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Pennington County - Education & Training

Preschool & Early Education

Rapid City, Douglas, and Hill City School Districts all operate pre-schools within their districts, but other options are available for parents of preschool aged children and younger. The YMCA of Rapid City also offers preschool programs for children ranging in ages one to five years old.

Many private preschools are also available in the Rapid City Area, including Cinnamon Hill Preschool, Friend-Ship Preschool, and Little Nest Preschool. Find a complete listing of Rapid City preschools here.

The Starting Strong initiative, began in 2012 in Rapid City and has a growing number of families to participate in the pilot program. Tuition is paid for through donations, and is sent directly to local volunteer providers who have met guidelines and offer the program.

K-12

Rapid City Area School District

According to the South Dakota Department of Education’s Profile, Rapid City Area School District 51-4 enrolled a total of 13,955 students in the fall of 2014. With 26 schools and approximately 1037 teachers, the district is the second largest in South Dakota. Approximately 19 percent of all students are of American Indian descent. More than a third of the district’s students meet the federal poverty guidelines for free and reduced lunches.

The high school graduation rate was 74.1 percent in 2015, up from 71 percent in 2014 and significantly lower than the state average of 83.9 percent, according to the South Dakota Department of Education’s 2014-2015 report card. In 2016, the graduation rate was 75.91 percent. According to the 2015-2016 Profile of Rapid City Area School District 51-4, there was a 3.2 percent dropout rate, the district graduated 743 students. 535 students took the ACT exam with an average composite score of 21.5.

Rapid City is also home to several private education institutions, including Rapid City Christian School and the Rapid City Catholic School System.

Douglas School District

With six schools in the district, Douglas School District 51-1in Box Elder had a total enrollment of 2,720 students in preschool to 12th grade, in the Fall of 2014. The high school graduation rate was 87.2 percent in 2015, up from 82.4 percent in 2014 and slightly lower than the state average of 83.9 percent, according to the South Dakota Department of Education’s 2014-2015 report card.

With a 1.7 percent dropout rate, the district graduated 160 students. 91 students took the ACT exam with an average composite score of 21.1. To view a statistical profile of funding, student and staff data, see the South Dakota Department of Education's 2014-2015 Profile of Douglas School District.

Hill City School District

Hill City School District 51-2 had a total enrollment of 518 students in preschool to 12th grade in the Fall of 2014. The high school graduation rate was 95.6 percent in 2015, up from 92.3 percent in 2014 and slightly higher than the state average of 83.9 percent. In 2016, the graduation rate was 100 percent. According to the South Dakota Department of Education’s 2015-2016 report card.

With a 0.5 percent dropout rate, the district graduated 32 students. 22 students took the ACT exam with an average composite score of 23.3. To view a statistical profile of funding, student and staff data, see the South Dakota Department of Education's 2015-2016 Profile of Hill City School District.

New Underwood School District

New Underwood School District 51-3 had a total enrollment of 264 K-12 students in the fall of 2014. The high school graduation rate was 88.2 percent in 2015, down from 96.1 percent in 2014 and slightly higher than the state average of 83.9 percent. In 2016, the graduation rate was 100 percent, according to the South Dakota Department of Education’s 2015-2016 report card.

With a 0.0 percent dropout rate, the district graduated 24 students. 20 students took the ACT exam with an average composite score of 19.5. To view a statistical profile of funding, student and staff data, see the South Dakota Department of Education's 2015-2016 Profile of Wall School District.

Wall School District

Wall School District 51-5 had a total enrollment of 259 K-12 students in the fall of 2014. The high school graduation rate was 83.3 percent in 2015, down from 92.8 percent in 2014 and slightly lower than the state average of 83.9 percent. In 2016, the graduation rate was 100 percent according to the South Dakota Department of Education’s 2015-2016 report card.

With a 1.7 percent dropout rate, the district graduated 19 students. 15 students took the ACT exam with an average composite score of 21.2. To view a statistical profile of funding, student and staff data, see the South Dakota Department of Education's 2015-2016 Profile of the Wall School District.

Career & Technical

Black Hills Beauty College: Started in 1978, Black Hills Beauty College strives to train those pursuing a career in cosmetology and the beauty industry. Services provided at the school include hair cutting and styling, skin care services, and nail services and are performed by supervised students.

National American University: National American University is a for-profit university with campuses all over the United States. Located off Highway 16 south of Rapid City, NAU offers flexible class schedules that allow students to go to school along with balancing professional and personal responsibilities. Several different levels of education can be earned through NAU programs, such as Diploma, Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees. Programs include Accounting, Business, Information Technology, and Health Services.

Western Dakota Technical Institute: Located in Rapid City, Western Dakota Tech is the only technical institute in Western South Dakota. Western Dakota Tech (WDT) offers more than twenty programs in fields such as health services, science & technology, and construction trades. Over 94 percent of WDT’s recent graduates are either working or continuing their education, and over 82 percent of those placed in careers are working in state.

Higher Education

South Dakota School of Mines & Technology:Founded in 1885 to provide instruction in the mining industry, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology has become an exceptional university that focuses in science and engineering research and offers bachelors, masters, and doctoral education.

Black Hills State University – Rapid City: Located off of Interstate 90 at Exit 61, BHSU-RC offers courses from universities across South Dakota, including Black Hills State University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, and Northern State University. The campus was opened in 2011 by the South Dakota Board of Regents with the hope of catering to non-traditional students and offering a regional hub for higher education, where students can take satellite classes through the state’s universities.

Other Educational Opportunities

Community Education of the Black Hills: Operated by Black Hills Special Services Cooperative, Community Education of the Black Hills offers adult learning classes in Rapid City, including recreation and educational classes.

Homeschool

The Rapid City Area School District offers support to families within the district who choose to homeschool their child/children.

More Information

Compare education attainment levels for Pennington County, State of South Dakota and United States.  Data found at 2010 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau

ates from the U.S. Census Bureau

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