MEADE COUNTY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - The fate of rural schools in Meade County had the new Central Meade County School building in Union Center at standing room only Tuesday night.
The Meade 46-1 School Board hosted a special meeting to address a half-million-dollar deficit in the county's general budget fund.
The deficit caused a third of rural teachers to recently lose their jobs and even prompted the discussion of schools closing.
Board members heard from the rural committee that was formed last January. The committee plans to break out on their own as a separate school district to fix the issue.
The plan they brought to the table Tuesday evening looks at the core of the general fund.
Due to state aid, the fund currently runs off of how many students there are.
If the communities were to split, Sturgis would save nearly half a million dollars and the rural community school would not be included in state aid and could be awarded a grant that will allow them to operate on their own.
The head of the South Dakota Department of Education, Dr. Ben Jones stopped by to explain the process.
One rural committee member said the well-attended meeting is a testament to how dedicated everyone is to children's education.
"So far I think everyone's tried to work together on it and that's how it should be. If everyone keeps in mind the best interest in the children and the students and the best education for the students, it is a win-win," said Mick Trask, a rural committee member.
In a school meeting in October, the board will take a vote on the proposed redistricting.
If the vote passes, the board will come up with a plan and send it to the state. If the plan is approved at the state level, it will then come down to voters.
If the board votes no, it can be dropped and there will either be a petition of 15% from voters or the school district will have to come up with a way to fix the nearly $500,000 deficit in the general fund.