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Rapid City School Board elections set to begin Tuesday

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 9:42 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Rapid City School Board elections are set to begin tomorrow with two candidates running for the Area 1 seat.

Both competitors say they have similar goals of bettering children’s education.

”We’re all in this because we want our kids to be supported. We want them to have a robust education and we want them to be alive. We have to address what emotional stability and what emotional intelligence looks like in our schools and we have to talk about history from a standpoint that builds us towards something better,” said Natalie Slack, one of the running candidates.

Slack’s opponent, Deb Baker, says she’s concerned for the the current state of education in Rapid City

“I’ve watched our school test scores that are published by the South Dakota Department of Education drop considerably,” said Baker.

In fact, Baker claims only 40% of the area’s high school students are not prepared for college after graduation.

Whatever side you’re on, it’s clear to both candidates that this race has been more politically charged than past school board elections.

”In this case, I think that we’re seeing maybe a little bit of push back of concern from people who didn’t feel like school wasn’t handled properly last year,” said Slack as she refers to the way schools had to handle changes throughout the pandemic.

Both candidates agreed to KOTA News that the race shouldn’t be about politics.

”We need to educate our kids. It’s not about politics. They are trying to make it about politics, it’s not about politics. This shouldn’t be about politics. Social agendas and ideologies left or right should be just left at the door. It’s my belief that parents should be the one to instill any form of values in their children and the school’s role is provide an education,” explained Baker.

Some of the questions surrounding the role of politics in the school board election came from the amount of money donated to candidates by political action committees.

”Because it’s a little bit shocking,” said Slack, “there was some sticker shock, I know, when the news article broke about the financial statements of different candidates.”

Why has so much money been donated? There’s wasn’t a clear answer, but Baker had an idea.

”Concern. I suppose people are concerned,” said Baker.

Despite which candidate you are voting for in any school district area, both candidates from Area 1 urge everyone to go out and vote.

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