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Funding Sought For Spring Creek School

November 16, 2011, 6:04 PM by Derek Olson

Funding Sought For Spring Creek School
CUSTER, SD - State budget cuts have forced many school districts to make tough choices.

When the Custer school board considered closing a small rural school in a remote corner of the district, the community stood up for their school.

The Spring Creek School is surrounded by ranchland in the far northeastern corner of Custer County and houses kindergarten through eighth grade.

"We service mostly ranch children, rural children that have grown up in the area," Spring Creek teacher Nette Meade said.

For some students, attending Spring Creek has become a family tradition.

"They're going to this school like their parents had and their parents before them had, so it's a pretty nice thing out here," 7th grader Ben Kruger said.

"Sometimes, it's the second, third, fourth generation of children all going to the same school," Meade said.

But because of the school's remote location, they don't have near as many students as other schools in the district.

"This year, we have six students. It fluctuates. Last year, we had eleven," Meade said.

Those low numbers prompted the Custer school board to consider closing the school in an effort to reconcile a cut of more than $840,000 to their annual budget.

"At one point in time, there was actually a motion on the table to close the school," parent Melissa Whitney said.

That would mean a long commute for some students. The next closest school is more than 20 miles away.

"In the winter, when you add from several inches to several feet of snow onto these roads, it's not an inconvenience to drive your kids to school; it's dangerous," Whitney said.

But objections raised by Spring Creek supporters have resulted in the formation of a committee that's designed to find new funding so that the school can remain open.

"This school is pretty much the hub of this community. We don't have a lot else out here and we don't ask for a lot more," Whitney said.

"I'm just happy that I'm going to be able to graduate here next year," Kruger said.

The Spring Creek school will stay open through at least the 2012-13 school year.

The committee finding other funding for the school will begin meeting in December.

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