Opt-Out decision for Rapid City Area Schools:
In March 2015, the RCAS school board unanimously approved a five-year, $6 million annual opt-out for the general fund, meaning the additional revenue would be raised via property taxes from within the district. Sixty-six other school districts in South Dakota have implemented opt-outs, meaning they decided to spend more than what is allowed under the caps placed on budget growth under state law.
In Rapid City, the school board certified and set a public vote to coincide with the municipal election on June 2. All voters within the RCAS district may vote for or against spending the additional $6 million annually. The City of Rapid City and ten other outlying communities make up the Rapid City Area School district:
With the opt-out decision, the additional $6 million over five years would pay for raises for the district's 1,800 employees and restore the school district's reserve fund to about $12 million for sufficient cash flow between property-tax payment periods and the arrival of state and federal payments. Without the opt-out, administrators have said, there are no funds for any raises.
View our opt-out archives for more details.
If voters approve the opt-out, the annual tax increases per $100,000 of assessed property value would be $72 for residential property, $150 for commercial property, and $30 for agricultural property. The opt-out affects only property taxes, not sales taxes or the city's Vision Fund. The additional levy would be applied in the first half of the 2015 property taxes payable in 2016, with funds available for the last half of the 2015-2016 school year.
The Rapid City school district's annual budget for 2014-15 was $158.5 million, with $85 million in general funds and $29 million in capital outlay. The current proposed budget for the 2015-16 school year is $160 million, with reductions to $84.4 million for the general fund and $24.4 million for capital outlay. Other budgets for the school - special education.
For Rapid City Area Schools, the school board approves the annual budget at its first regular meeting in May, followed by a public hearing at the second regular meeting in May. A final round of revisions is approved during the annual July meeting, and the final budget is approved by October 1.
General Fund vs. Capital Outlay
What’s the difference between the general fund and capital outlay? The general fund (SDCL 13-16-3) is funded by federal, state and local sources pays for the operational costs of a school district. This includes instructional costs, salaries, benefits, support services and extra-curricular/co-curricular programs. In Rapid City schools, about 85 percent of the general fund goes to pay for employee salaries and benefits.
The capital outlay fund (SDCL 13-16-6) is funded by local sources and is designated for structural costs such as land, existing buildings, construction, maintenance, improvements of grounds, and equipment, including technology.
Like other South Dakota school districts, Rapid City has struggled to maintain its educational programs since Gov. Dennis Daugaard and the 2011 Legislature slashed the per-student allocation by 8.6 percent to help balance the state budget. Rapid City schools saw a 6 percent cut in state funding. The district has trimmed $6.57 million from its 2015-2016 budget; including eliminating nearly 100 teacher positions and cutting several programs.
In 2015, the South Dakota Legislature passed a school funding bill (SB53), setting the per student allocation for 2016-17 at $4,876.76. That is a $95.62 increase over the 2015-2016 school year. During this same time Governor Daugaard appointed a commitee of legislatures for the Blue Ribbon Task Force, to conduct a statewide tour and gathering data to make recommendations to the 2016 State Legislature for education reform.
Links to more resources