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RCAS has seen a decline in student enrollment

Enrollment in RCAS schools peaked eight years ago, reaching nearly 14,000 students. But since then the numbers have slowly declined, even with the expected drop this year.
Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 5:55 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The rise in COVID19 cases throughout the state has impacted school attendance in Rapid City. But is that the only reason for declining enrollment in local schools?

“There have not been any major gains or losses over the last 10 years, you look at a trend line, it’s been pretty stable," said Katy Urban, the RCAS community relations manager. "With like I said the exception of 2012 where we say a big spike and then this year which we would attribute to the pandemic.”

Enrollment in RCAS schools peaked eight years ago, reaching nearly 14,000 students. But since then the numbers have slowly declined, with the expected drop this year.

“This year, we know that we’ve had a lot of families return to the reservation," said Urban. "We know that like other districts throughout the state, a number of people have opted to homeschool their students because of COVID-19, and then in the past, there’s some different, there’s a lot of different factors.”

Yet the district maintains it needs more space and more money.

“Our schools are very overcrowded as it is, they are aging, they are overcrowded," said Urban. "We right now don’t have the capacity for the students that we have, regardless of whether we’re declining or not, with 13,000 kids we don’t have the room that we need at this point.”

Despite the decline in students, school administration has grown by nearly 30 percent in the last four years with the addition of 12 assistant principal hires.

“It’s only a matter of time before we do see more students, especially with what’s happening with Ellsworth Air Force Base," said Urban. "We know that our community is growing which likely means that our schools will grow as well.”

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