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Joint school board meeting scheduled for South Central, Burke

BONESTEEL -- In what started as consolidation negotiations, Burke and South Central have begun exploring a "joint powers" agreement. That would allow South Central School District to send some of its students to the Burke district without pursuin...

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)
School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)

BONESTEEL - In what started as consolidation negotiations, Burke and South Central have begun exploring a “joint powers” agreement.

That would allow South Central School District to send some of its students to the Burke district without pursuing a consolidation or dissolution of the South Central school.

The two school districts have scheduled a joint school board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 30 in Burke to discuss the potential agreement, according to South Central School Board President Jason Jons.

“We’re still in the early stages of discussions,” Jons said. “We just want to have some preliminary talks and get some ideas out from both sides.”

School board minutes from past meetings say South Central is interested in discussing a potential tuition agreement in which seventh through 12th-grade South Central students would attend Burke, while keeping the remainder of the students in Bonesteel, where South Central is located; and the possibility of supplementing the Burke facility with certified SouthCentral staff members in areas where needs exist.

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While certain grade levels would attend the Burke School District, they would still be considered South Central students, and South Central would still receive funding from the state for those students. But Burke would charge tuition at a set rate for each student attending classes in its district, Burke Superintendent Erik Person said.

The joint powers agreement is pursuant to a bill - House Bill 1169 - signed into law by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in March and that went into effect July 1, 2016.

According to the South Dakota Department of Education, schools were allowed to share staff and services prior to the bill’s passing, but the bill explicitly allows schools to operate an attendance center outside of their district’s boundaries, which was not allowed before.

Next week’s public meeting will allow school board members from each side to voice concerns, ask questions and present ideas, Person said. Prior to the meeting, committees were formed with representatives from South Central and Burke to meet and discuss options, then report back to their respective school boards, Person said.

“More than anything it’ll be an opportunity for everybody to ask whatever questions they might have,” Person said. “I think all parties involved are really eager to openly discuss how this might work and how we can work together to make a better education for our students.”

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