Growing Pains: RCAS searches for overcrowding solutions
RAPID CITY S.D. – As Rapid City continues to grow, so does its student population.
On Monday night, Rapid City Area School (RCAS) leaders presented the newest numbers on the district’s growing pains.
Rapid City is in the thick of a population boom, with families moving to the southern, southwestern, and eastern sides of town. The fall enrollment study shows big jumps in first and ninth grades, but declines in second and fifth.
This past fall, RCAS forced some students to transfer to alleviate the overcrowding. Even with the transfers, the problem still persists.
“In fact all of our schools are crowded,” said Dr. Matthew Seebaum, the RCAS Assistant Superintendent. “We don’t really have any room in any of our schools for more students if we had a major influx of students show up some day.”
Canyon Lake, Valley View, Corral Drive Elementaries and Stevens High School are above program capacity. That doesn’t mean that they are violating fire code, it just means that there are more students in the school than originally intended.
Dr. Seebaum said there’s a couple of solutions, but they’re both potentially unpopular. Rapid City could redraw school boundaries, or add more facilities.
“Is it time to look at some long range planning where we need to renovate or build a new school?” Dr. Seebaum asked, “And I think we will.”
The RCAS facilities task force, made up of board members, community members, and educators, is looking at the viability of a new school. But for now, there’s more questions than answers about where, when and for how much a school would be built.
“It’s a process and it does have to do with asking people to invest in their schools which involves tax increases. We’re just not there yet,” said Dr. Seebaum.