Rapid City Area Schools are overcrowded and falling apart

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RAPID CITY, S.D, (KEVN) - The Rapid City Area Schools Task Force is recommending a $250 million proposal to build three new elementary schools, rebuild two middle schools at their current locations, renovate six other schools and close at least three more. It's all to combat aging infrastructure and overcrowding problems.

But just how bad is it and where is this money going to come from?

Crack after crack lines the walls of the 66-year-old Robbinsdale School and they keep getting bigger. Some walls have separated from the floor and the stage floor is bowing.

These are the many signs of why the Task Force is recommending closing this school down.

"To fix something like this would be very difficult and expensive. It's not that it cannot be done but you would pay three to four times the cost for fixing it," Manager of Facility Services Kumar Veluswamy.

According to the school district's communications manager Katy Urban, it would cost $500 million to renovate 14 schools to be up to par with the newest school, East Middle. Therefore, the Task Force recommends rebuilding and building new schools instead, especially to combat overcrowding.

Several desks and chairs block the hallways creating an on the spot learning center for teachers and their students. The school has some make-shift classrooms. Grey walls were installed within a classroom to create another one to accommodate the population of students.

But where is the $250 million coming from?

"It's done through general obligation bond and what that generally means is that all the taxpayers in Pennington County pay a small portion of the loan payment which is basically what we're trying to raise in any given year and then that loan payment goes to pay off the bond," Assistant Superintendent of Fiscal and Support Services Dave Janak.

The small portion he's talking about is $2.37 per thousand dollar home valuation. This means if you have a $100,000 home then you will pay $237.

But it can't happen without a vote. If the proposal doesn't change and the board of education approves it, voters will decide whether they want the tax increase or not in the fall.

"I think it's an investment in our students. I think people have to understand and just have to view this as somebody paid years ago to build the buildings standing right now for the students that attend school," Janak said.