The Meade School District board met Monday, and a large crowd attended to discuss a singular agenda item – Rural Suspension of Operations and Staffing. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, Superintendent Jeff Simmons and the school board hope to work together with rural schools and families to develop a plan for Meade County’s rural schools going forward.
Currently, the Meade School District operates rural schools in Opal, Hereford, Atall, Union Center and Enning, and Elm Springs. Simmons would like the plan developed to create “meaningful education experiences for the students that the school district serves in a fiscally responsible and realistic way”. Being considered are the numbers of students and families being served, driving distances to schools, and more.
According to enrollment numbers from this fall, Opal currently has 15 students; Hereford, 15; Atall, 11; Union Center and Enning, 48; and Elm Springs, 14, for a total of 103 rural students. The cost to operate these schools is approximately $1.1 million, with only an estimated $900,000 collected in ag property taxes in the area.
Many community members spoke in favor of keeping the schools open. They spoke about the histories of the rural schools and the difficulties rural families faced in traveling long distances to take their children to school, which would only be lengthened if closures occurred.
The discussion on rural schools was for discussion only, so no action was taken at the Monday meeting.
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