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Brandon Valley Schools move towards closing Valley Springs Elementary

Brandon Valley School District's administrative building
Brandon Valley School District
Brandon Valley School District's administrative building

The Brandon Valley School District has slated Valley Springs Elementary School surplus to requirements and has moved to begin the process of closure.

The district originally planned to close the school next year, but financial issues accelerated the timeline.

Superintendent Jarod Larsen explained the situation.

“This year our budget was built around having 165 additional students enrolled than we did the last fall at count date," Larsen said. "At this point we have approximately 35 additional students, ultimately leading us to having 130 fewer students than expected and ultimately budgeted for.”

Valley Springs has a student population of less than 100. Those kids will be reassigned to other schools in the district.

“What we are planning is the closure of Valley Springs Elementary at the end of this year, and ultimately the entirety of the Valley Springs Elementary boundary will be attached to the Brandon Elementary boundary, and those 65 students will go to Brandon Elementary," Larsen said. "I don’t anticipate transportation and bussing to be a significant issue.”

In fact, Larsen said he sees a more efficient district with the school’s closure.

“If we took those 65 students and put them in Brandon Elementary, and gave Brandon Elementary no additional supports, their section sizes would be very aligned to our current section sizes in other multi-section elementaries,” Larsen said.

Larsen, in a video message, stressed transparency to families as a key priority through the closure process. He expects the resolution to close the school to be acted on during the Oct. 23 board meeting.

The district planned on opening a new elementary school in 2025, but that got pushed back a year due to budget constraints.

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