Rod Weber, superintendent of schools in Woonsocket, said small, rural schools face some unique challenges in hiring and funding, though Weber believes Woonsocket schools do a good job of creating an effective learning environment. Photo courtesy: Bart Pfankuch, South Dakota News Watch

Small, rural school systems in South Dakota and across the country face sometimes daunting challenges in providing a strong education to students.

Limited funding, difficulty in hiring and retaining good teachers, remoteness and transportation challenges, high poverty rates among students and reduced access to college-preparatory courses can all hamper learning in small, isolated school districts.

South Dakota is one of the most rural states in the nation when it comes to public education, with the vast majority of school districts located in rural areas and with 40 percent of students statewide attending rural schools.

Rural educators often tout the generally lower student-teacher ratios and close relationships formed between students and staffs, and scores on standardized tests show that students in some rural South Dakota districts match and occasionally outperform their urban peers.

But a new national study of small, rural school systems ranked South Dakota as fifth-highest in the nation in terms of challenges faced and need for improvement.

The study by the Rural School and Community Trust, titled “Why Rural Matters 2018-19,” used census information and data from the U.S. Department of Education and other sources in an attempt to shine a light on the need for states to focus more attention on and provide greater funding to rural schools.

“We do this study because rural schools and communities really matter to our nation, and they’re often forgotten,” said Alan Richard, a spokesman for the Rural School and Community Trust. “The financial and logistical challenges that rural schools face are really immense.”

The study found that nationally, nearly one in six rural students lives in poverty, that one in seven qualifies for special education and that one in nine rural students has moved in the past year. All of those factors put rural students at risk of falling behind or not graduating.

A high student-mobility rate is one of the factors hampering rural education in South Dakota, the study found. Researchers also said South Dakota is one of only seven states that decreased funding for rural schools in recent years, and that the state has a high rate of students living in poverty.

…Read on in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

Local veterans, Harry and Delbert Northrup, greet and accept the personal thanks from each of the Sanborn Central School students and their teachers at the Veterans Day program on Monday morning.

On Monday, Nov. 11, Sanborn Central and Woonsocket Schools held Veterans Day programs to honor all veterans in our county and around the country. Sanborn Central presented their program in the morning and started with a welcome from Supt. Justin Siemsen and then a beautiful performance of the Star Spangled Banner by Dayton Easton. Samantha Dean then gave an explanation of how Veterans Day was created, and she played a couple of meaningful videos to explain what Veterans Day means and should mean to people all over the country.

The Woonsocket School’s program took place in the afternoon and started with the color guard from the American Legion Post 29 from Woonsocket posting the flags and the entire audience saying the Pledge of Allegiance. The media class followed with an introductory video they put together with people of different ages explaining what Veterans Day means to them. Supt. Rod Weber then gave a welcome and had all veterans in attendance come forward to the gym floor and introduce themselves and tell a little bit about their service, such as in what branch and how long they served and when they served. 

…Read more and see more pictures of the programs in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!

PICTURED ARE, left to right: Dayton Easton, Andrew Lindgren and SCW band director Janae West at the Grand Finale Concert in Sioux Falls.

Andrew Lindgren, a junior at Woonsocket High School, and Dayton Easton, a sophomore at Sanborn Central High School, were selected to participate in the 62nd Annual Augustana Band Festival.

To be selected, Lindgren and Easton had to submit an application to the festival selection committee. Once chosen, they received the selected music a couple weeks before the event to practice on their own. Then, they reported to the Augustana University campus with their band director, Janae West, on Friday, Nov. 8. There, they met and practiced for two days with the other student musicians from across South Dakota selected to participate in the festival and perform in the Grand Finale Concert held on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Mary W. Sommervold Hall in the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls. 

…Read on in this week’s issue of the Sanborn Weekly Journal!