Pioneer Lane event marks 100 years of rural county schools

On Saturday, Aug. 4, former students of Minnehaha County rural schools will gather at 2 p.m. at Pioneer Lane at the W. H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls for a program to recognize the 100-year history of rural education in the county. 
In February 1968, Grinde School was moved from north of Colton to its present site at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds. Rural schools were closing at a fast pace after a master plan of reorganization was adopted by the Minnehaha County Board of Education in the ‘60s. The County Superintendent of Schools was concerned no example of a rural school would be open to the public.
In the November 1968 general election, South Dakota voters passed Referendum 2 - South Dakota School District Reorganization by a razor thin margin. The new law provided all land area within the state become a part of an independent school district by July 1, 1970. The passage of that law caused the last 12 rural schools in Minnehaha County to close: Benton Township: Foster School #85; Hartford Township: Johnson School #54 and McLeod #77; Wayne Township: Lackey #50, Ellis #87, Spring Valley #69 and Hayward/Oaks #10; Wall Lake Township: Muchow #29 & Wall Lake #61; Mapleton Township: Evergreen #18 and Renberg #5; and Sioux Falls Township: Burney/Whipple#88. 
A large wall map illustrating the locations of all 140 former schools within the county, provided by the Old Courthouse Museum, will be on display.
The 2 p.m. program will recognize individuals and groups who played a role in changes to education and will highlight the stages of the 1960s consolidations. The decisions the local school boards made at that time to attach to independent districts created the irregular school district boundaries in the county today. 
The program will close with a “calling of the roll” – a chronological listing of the 140 schools in the order in which they ceased operation. 
The program is open to the public.

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