Dr. Simon addresses critical issues facing Rapid City Area Schools

RAPID CITY, S.D. — With only a few months left as the Rapid City Area Schools Superintendent, Dr. Lori Simon says she hopes to leave a lasting, positive legacy on the district.

She was the featured speaker Thursday afternoon at the Pennington County Republican Women’s meeting, giving the first of three presentations on education.

“If assessment is to be a positive force in education, it must be implemented properly.” Dr. Simon opened her presentation by talking about a general lack of understanding regarding state assessments.

Dr. Simon is in her sixth and final year in the role of superintendent after recently announcing her plan to resign at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

“I’m really looking at this as an opportunity to educate our community and have good conversation,” Dr. Simon said before the presentation Thursday.

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Superintendent Dr. Lori Simon gives a presentation at the January meeting of the Pennington County Republican Women’s group (January 20, 2022)

She focused on five key issues facing the school district, like the impact of poverty on learning.

“Only about 40% of our kindergarteners [are] beginning school developmentally where we would expect them to start in terms of their reading preparedness,” Dr. Simon says.

Also a concern? The condition of many school facilities.

“I need to talk about our facilities challenges, because none of those have gone away; in fact, they’re exacerbating,” she says.

Staffing shortages are affecting not just teachers, but staff, too – like bus drivers.

RCAS currently has 35 vacancies for licensed positions and 112 other staff vacancies, which Dr. Simon attributes to low pay resulting in a lack of competition.

The Pennington County Republican Women’s group is scheduled to host several other education-focused speakers, including state Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson.

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