Sunday, March 30, 2008

Consultant Uerling pointed out in his assessment that the elementary school in Deadwood “should have potential as a valuable commercial site,” . . .

The Deadwood School Building still smells of the sweet mopping odors that these gentlemen janitors provided in our day. Image that to the smoke stink of a gambling establishment . . .

Dave Klein DHS54 provides the following 3/29/08 posting reference from the old Pioneer Times:

~~ This sure adds to importance of the School Plaque we added to the DHS entrance steps (see Site right hand column). Stupid ideas seem to hang on then bloom. Can you imagine our school building being sold as another gambling establishment? ~~DD

Closure of elementary school in Deadwood ‘not imminent’
Black Hills Pioneer
LEAD In a special meeting of the Lead-Deadwood Board of Education Thursday night a preliminary oral report on the school district's Facility Use Study was presented to an audience consisting of nearly 40 members by Educational Consultant Dr. Donald F. Uerling of Nebraska. Although Uerling pointed out in his assessment that the elementary school in Deadwood “should have potential as a valuable commercial site,” no recommendations were made at this point to close the facility.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Dan Leikvold reassured those in attendance that there is no intention of closing the elementary school in Deadwood.

“I have had several people come up to me on the street and say, 'Hey, what are you trying to do, closing the school in Deadwood?' That is not imminent,” said Leikvold. “There is lots and lots of time to gather input from community members and the end result will ultimately be what the school board decides,” he said. “My plan is to have the conversation introducing the information regarding the study tonight. I will give my recommendations on the process of how to proceed and then allow the community to absorb that information over the summer,” explained Leikvold.

Commissioned nearly one year ago by the Board of Education as part of the school district's strategic plan, the study addresses the impact of declining enrollment on the district and its resources.

“You have great facilities, great space, but your enrollment is declining,” said Uerling. “There is a lot of space for the number of students enrolled in your school.”

He explained that people need to get comfortable with the new information. He added, “Once they're comfortable with the information, people tend to make good decisions.”

The oral presentation consisted of eight sections: an introduction and overview; the school district; demographics; enrollments; programs; buildings and sites; finances; and conclusions and recommendations. With findings from the six school-specific sections each overlapping and affecting each other, Dr. Uerling's conclusions and recommendations portion of the study showed the following.


Lead-Deadwood enrollments have declined dramatically during recent years.

There were approximately as many students enrolled in the high school alone in 1995 (440) as there were students enrolled in the middle school and the high school combined in 2007 (448). Compared to fall enrollments for 2007, during the projection period from 2008 to 2017, average enrollments for grades kindergarden through fifth are projected to be nearly 11 percent larger (from 319 to 358.8), for an average of 59 students per grade; average enrollments for grades six thorugh eight are projected to be 8 percent smaller (from 180 to 165.6), for an average of 55.2 students per grade; average enrollments for grades nine through 12 were projected to be 22 percent smaller (from 268 to 209), for an average of 52.3 students per grade; and average enrollments for all grades kindergarden through 12 were projected to be 5 percent smaller (from 767 to 728.3), for an average of 56 students per grade.

The demographic data indicate that there should be an increase in the number of Lawrence County births, however, an increase in the number of Lawrence County births during recent years has not been reflected in an increase in the number of kindergarten students.


Lead-Deadwood, like most pre kindergarden through 12 school systems, has added a number of new instructional and support programs during the past several decades. Both staff and space have been provided to support these programs.

A potential instructional program addition identified was a prekindergarten for general education students. Some recent decisions about staffing will have an impact on the number of classroom sections offered.

Buildings and sites

Lead-Deadwood has four instructional buildings located on two sites: the elementary school, the middle school, high school, and the welding building for a total of 266,910 sq. ft. Compared to an array of other school districts, there is a relatively large amount of total building space per student. Much of the building space at the middle school and high school is not fully utilized. Many rooms could have been scheduled for more periods each day. A few spaces are not used at all, a few spaces are used infrequently and a few spaces are used because they are available.

All buildings are well-maintained. There has been a number of additions and remodeling projects during recent years. There is a relatively small amount of site space for the instructional buildings and parking.

The elementary building in Deadwood should have potential as a valuable commercial property.

School District Planning

Since the Lead-Deadwood School District was formed in 1971, there have been a number of major adjustments to the inventory of buildings and sites to bring the facilities in line with declining student enrollments and evolving educational programs.


Lead-Deadwood should monitor enrollments closely for the next several years. During the next five years it should become more clear whether the enrollments will continue to decrease or will stabilize or will even increase.

If enrollments continue to decline, it should be possible to move middle school grades sixth through eighth to the high school building. The fourth floor might provide appropriate accommodations; however, local staff would make that determination.

If middle school grades sixth through eighth were moved to the high school building, then the elementary grades pre-kindergarten through fifth could be moved to the existing middle school building.

The existing middle school building would not have enough rooms for the elementary school. Probably it would be necessary to construct additional space, perhaps an early childhood addition for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs.

School staff should explore these various options. Administrators who are directly involved in scheduling programs and allocating spaces and teachers who are directly involved in delivering instruction are in the best position to determine specifically who best to use various building spaces.

School district officials, employees and patrons should all become familiar with the information provided in this study and all should be involved in discussions about long-range facility planning.

Two questions came from the audience when Dr. Uerling opened up the floor for discussion. Jerry Apa asked if it wasn't true that the population increase in Lawrence County, shown on one of the handouts, reflected a high median age. Dr. Uerling affirmed this observation and added that the area seems to attract an older population who may not have children enrolled in school. The other question dealt with the total number of births in Lawrence County and whether or not it had been taken into account that the Deadwood birthing center at the hospital had been closed, forcing some women out of the county to have their children. Dr. Uerling assured the group that for census purposes, births are counted according to the mother's place of residence.

“Your school system is doing the right thing. Rather than wait for a problem to be staring them in the face down the road, they're being proactive,” said Uerling. The preliminary oral report will be followed by a formal written report in May.


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