On Tuesday, February 9, the Grant-Deuel School Board of Education voted unanimously to begin the process to close the doors. The board’s vote will start the procedure to dissolve the district at the end of the 2016-2017 school year in accordance with SDCL 13-6-10.
Board chairperson, Jon Wold, explained to the board and community members the school’s numbers have gradually been dropping over the course of several years. Currently the enrollment is around 70 students.“We have done all we can to keep our doors open as long as possible,” Wold expressed solemnly. State law requires schools to maintain a minimum enrollment of 100 students to continue to function independently as a school district. “We just do not have the number of students required for us to stay open any longer,” he stated. Wold also explained that even if the school had enough money to operate in the coming years, they still would need to meet the state law of the minimum enrollment of 100 students. Laws also require schools to operate a K-12 system. Therefore the possibility of operating only an elementary school cannot be pursued. “We can make this decision ourselves or have the state tell us we have to close. I personally would rather we make our own decision,” Wold said.
The school district does have the funds and will continue to operate through the 2016-2017 school year. Superintendent Al Stewart explained that capital outlay funds would be opened up into the general fund for the final year.
Students currently in the Grant Deuel district will be incorporated in the Milbank School District. Those who are on the borders of the Waverly-South Shore and Deuel School Districts may transfer to those schools if they choose.
Twenty-five school staff members will be affected once the dissolution is final. “We hope they will be able to be hired by schools in the surrounding area,” said Wold. “Others may have life choices to make which is unfortunate.”
The accepted motion to dissolve is just the beginning of the process. A series of public meetings will take place in the coming year to gather information and suggestions. The plan to dissolve will be submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Education for approval and will be set before the voters of the Grant-Deuel School District.