Get Educated on Education
“How can we make it easier for military families when they move here?”
It’s a question Jennifer Beving has asked many times as she continues her local advocacy work to help homeschooling families succeed. It makes sense, she says, to help pave a smooth road for military families as they acclimate to the Black Hills, whether they homeschool, attend a private school or enroll in the local public school.
If you have school-age kids, here are the quickest ways to get connected with the right education plan for your family:
It was a homeschooling military family that had the greatest impact on Beving’s early years as a homeschooling mom. One of the first families they connected with happened to be an Air Force family who decided to homeschool to maximize time with their kids as they traveled, accommodated deployments and moved to new bases.
“These families a lot of times just know how to dive in and create a community because they have to,” Beving said.
The mother of the family was originally from Germany and as the families spent time together in a homeschool community, Beving watched as her own kids soaked in the German culture, language and food.
“Some of my kids’ best memories are from that time with them,” Beving said. “It opened my eyes. It’s about family. She knew they needed to figure out how to keep their kids happy and healthy in a crazy lifestyle and they decided the time together was important.”
There are currently more than 10,000 homeschooled kids in South Dakota, double the number from before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Beving, a former attorney and mom of three, often serves as the spokesperson for the homeschooling community during legislative sessions and local homeschooling programming.
The Black Hills area hosts multiple homeschool coops and activities. To stay on top of the latest schedule, visit these Facebook groups: Black Hills Home Educators, West River Christian Homeschoolers or the Homeschooling South Dakota Discussion Group. Visit fairsd.org for more information on homeschooling in South Dakota.
Families who homeschool must notify the local public school district or the South Dakota Department of Education.
South Dakota state law requires two subjects to be taught: language arts and math.
No standardized tests are required.
A law passed in 2021 now allows homeschools kids to enroll in public school courses. If they take more than 50 percent of the classes, they are required to complete the school’s state standardized testing. The new law also allows homeschool students to open enroll to the district of their choice.
Rapid City Area Schools is the largest district on the west side of the state, with 15 elementary schools, 5 middle schools, 2 high schools, and one alternative academy. The district, in total, encompasses 416 square miles.
Multiple smaller communities surrounding Rapid City also offer public education opportunities.
Fast RCAS Facts:
Schools in the district provide tours and meet and greets with parents as well as district-wide mentorship programs. The district’s web site – rcas.org is the best tool for more information, particularly the “Parent” tab for registration requirements, district boundaries, bussing information, calendars, supply lists, and more.
You can open enroll into RCAS if you do not live in the RCAS boundaries. Resources can be found under the student transfers section of the registration portion on the web site. The deadline is the last Friday in September for first semester and last Friday in January for second semester.
Rapid City Area School Graduated 741 students this spring.
A favorite tradition for RCAS students is Grad Walks. Seniors can take one of their last school days to visit the elementary and middle schools they attended to thank teachers.
Rapid City High School is turning 100 years old this year. Rapid City High School was the only public high school in Rapid City until 1969 when Stevens high school was built.
Douglas School District serves more military families than any other district, with more than 40 percent of the students connected to the military. Seventy percent of the students connected directly to EAFB attend Douglas Schools. DSD is located next to EAFB.
DSD maintains a web page on its web site dedicated to military families transferring in or out. Visit Douglas School District (dsdk12.net) for more information or watch this video: Welcome to the Douglas School District – Military-Connected Students – Douglas School District (dsdk12.net)
DSD celebrates Month of the Military Child and supports military families through the MFLAC program. The district has two MFLAC counselors who only see military students and their families. DSD has two EAFB leaders (commissioned and non-commissioned) who serve on our Board of Education as ex-officio members.
Douglas is the only Purple Star District in the state of South Dakota. The Purple Star designation is awarded to military-friendly schools that have demonstrated a major commitment to students and families connected to our nation’s military.
The district maintains small class sizes. Most have a 20:1 ratio.
They boast a 92 percent graduation rate, which is 10 percent higher than the state average.
Families new to the Black Hills have multiple private school options. Contact each school individually to request information.
Calvary Baptist Christian School (Pre K-5)
School Administrator – Chris Causey – email@example.com
Principal – Earlene Errea
Children’s House Montessori (Pre K-6)
Director – Gayle Simmons – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberty Baptist Academy (LBA) (K-12)
Principal – Tyler Brock – email@example.com
Creekside Christian School (Pre K- 12)
Principal/Pastor – Christi Hendrickson – firstname.lastname@example.org
Rapid City Catholic Schools
Superintendent (Interim) – Robert Aberle – email@example.com
Counselor – Stephanie Strand – firstname.lastname@example.org
St Elizabeth Seton at Terra (Pre K-5)
Principal – Colleen Lecy- email@example.com
Preschool Director – Jana Thies – firstname.lastname@example.org
St Thomas More Middle School (6-8)
Principal – Mary Helen Olsen
St Thomas More High School (9-12)
Principal – James Johnston
Rapid City Christian School (6-12)
School Administrator – Julie Hewitt
Rapid City SDA School (K-8)
Principal – Jamie Howell
St Paul’s Lutheran School (Pre K-8)
Principal – Aaron Schwartz – email@example.com
Preschool Director – Nicole Maddox – firstname.lastname@example.org
Zion Lutheran (Pre K-5)
Principal – Ann Solinsky – email@example.com