Facilities Task Force Findings
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The Rapid City Area Schools Facilities Task Force was convened in the spring of 2018. The Task Force is made up of a diverse group of people from our community including district parents (past and present), business owners, district staff members and Board of Education members. The group was tasked with coming up with a facility plan that first and foremost put kids first and addressed the needs of all our students, the most urgent of which are outlined in the current proposal. Secondly, the task force was asked to create a plan that reflected input from the community. The group spent months studying the District’s MGT study. They also looked at boundaries and took tours of RCAS buildings before creating and presenting a facility master plan.
After much research the RCAS Facilities Task Force found there are there are four primary needs that must be addressed.
- Aging and deteriorating buildings
- Increasing enrollment and future growth
- Safety and Security
- 21st Century learning environments
Aging and Deteriorating Buildings
The average age of our buildings is 53 years old. Twelve of our 23 schools (more than half) were built between 1949 and 1963. This was a booming time for Rapid City as Ellsworth Air Force Base opened in 1941. Since many of our buildings were built in that same time frame, approximately 50 years ago, many of the structures are wearing out. Finding replacement parts for boilers, lights and other necessities is challenging as many of the parts are no longer made. Additionally, classrooms are too small. When many of our buildings were constructed, there were far fewer students enrolled than there are today. The District’s enrollment in the early 1950s was under 3,000 students. Today, we have nearly 14,000 students – and that number is increasing.
Growth and overcrowding
On top of aging and deteriorating infrastructure, the District’s enrollment is increasing, and schools are simply running out of space. Growth is expected to continue, especially with news of an expansion at Ellsworth Air Force Base. In addition to growth, there has been a shift in our City’s population. Our schools on the southwest and east sides of town have reached their functional capacity. This has resulted in students being forced transferred to schools outside of their attendance boundary.
On safety and security
There have been dozens of school shootings in the last two decades. As a result, schools have had to rethink safety and security including safe entrances, cameras, and ALICE drills – just to name a few. With so many of our schools having entrances that once in, allow access to the rest of the school and more than 20 annexes throughout our district requiring students to travel back and forth between buildings, we have many safety and security needs that need to be addressed. It is necessary to design schools with safety and security in mind today more than ever before.
21st Century Learning environments
Education has changed dramatically since the 1950s. We are preparing students for jobs that have not event been created yet. 21st Century learning environments require flexible spaces, labs and different technology infrastructure.
Read these Rapid City Journal articles to learn more about why the Task Force recommended closing the following schools:
Hear from several community and business leaders on why having modern school facilities is necessary to bring quality employers and employees to the area; resulting in greater economic development and retention of top level talent.