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Rapid City Schools eye potential closure of Canyon Lake Elementary

Canyon Lake Elementary in Rapid City
Canyon Lake Elementary
Canyon Lake Elementary in Rapid City

Dozens of parents found themselves at an unexpected town hall in the gymnasium of Canyon Lake Elementary following the revelation the school could be closed at the end of the year.

Word of the closure first came when teachers were informed in a staff-only meeting February 21st. It was then relayed to the parent-teacher organization

Eric Clayborn has a third grader attending Canyon Lake and serves as vice president of the school's PTO. He said parents were not properly warned of the proposal.

“Because it was given on such short notice, and it was just decided without any input from the community or the families," Clayborn said. "That’s what we we’re trying to communicate, to show them how disruptive this is and will be without the ability for us to prepare. There’s so many second and third-order effects that are going to come up now."

Clayborn said issues like after school programming, transport, and the mental health of students have not been properly addressed.

Another parent of two Canyon Lake students, John Snyder, said he’s unhappy with the answers provided by the district.

“From our understanding we asked, ‘is there a budget concern, is there a repair and maintenance cost, is there something that’s coming that makes now the only chance – we have to do it now to avoid this other thing that’s coming?’ And they said no," Snyder said. "They haven’t articulated the reason for the necessity of it."

The fate of Canyon Lake Elementary will be an agenda item at the school board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 7th. Rapid City Area Schools community relations manager Schaefbauer confirmed it is budget concerns facing the school.

“Unfortunately Canyon Lake, to keep open right now, is just not financially responsible for the district to continue," Schaefbauer said. "We’ve had a lot of issues with heating and cooling of the building – Canyon Lake West in particular. That would have been a $1.2 million-dollar fix.”

Schaefbauer says the district recognizes the concern of parents and acknowledges the lapse in communication.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture