RCAS voters defeat school bond issue for Rapid City schools
RAPID CITY, S.D. — A majority of voters in the Rapid City Area Schools district voted for a school bond issue, but it was not enough for the bond to pass. South Dakota state law requires that school bonds pass by 60% plus one vote. The final tally was 9,287 votes in favor versus 7,211 opposed, or 56.29% to 43.71%.
The nearly $189.5 million bond is intended to pay for the restoration of existing buildings, the building of new schools, and improving security at many buildings that were built in a simpler time.
Amy Policky, School Board Member, said “Hopefully we’ll continue to get feedback throughout the community so we can get to a point where we can pass a school bond . I really liked what Val Simpson said, it only 50 percent of the vote to pass a bond to build a prison, and that’s a really sad statement for our state, for our community, that tonight we could have built a prison but we cannot build a school.”
Buildings date from shortly after World War II and are showing the wear and tear of seven decades. To meet student and safety codes some of the schools need the bond to pass in order to remain in service. Otherwise buildings will have to be closed within the coming years, according to proponents from Vote Yes for Rapid City Schools.
On the other hand, the group RCAS Forward has opposed the bond, concerned about the rise in property taxes.
A Rapid City Area Schools Facilities Task Force was created in 2018 to assess the district’s current structures.
They found deteriorating buildings. But as large and issue is presumed population growth that would leave the existing buildings too overcrowded for a productive school environment. Expansion at Ellsworth Air Force base is predicted to bring in new families with school age children. In addition, city planning suggests 5,000 new homes will be built in the area within the next three years. The growth coming to the area in the next several years is supposed to increase the property tax revenue, which would presumably help with the cost of the bond.
RCAS bond opposition is skeptical about the presumed growth, suggesting that the growth may not be as great as proponents say.