Skip to main content

Smee district breaks ground on community center and school

WAKPALA, S.D. - Members of the Smee Public School District board of education and the tribal council broke ground on land a community center and school will eventually occupy.

The land, 103 acres three miles south of Wakpala, was purchased from Gene Cadotte. The will be no actual work on the building until late this fall and completion is set for December 2001. Bid proposals are due Sept. 29 and contracts should be awarded Oct. 12.

The completed project could cost up to $7.72 million, which has been set aside. Construction will be under a design-build proposal so the final cost could be less than the $7 million figure, said Susan Smit, Smee School District C.E.O. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will contribute the largest percentage of the funds with an estimated $4.3 million, the U.S. Department of Education will contribute $1.3 million and the school district $1.2 million. A Community Development Block Grant through the South Dakota governor's office is for $500,000. A matching grant of $250,000 will come from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe and $170,000 for wiring technology from a state program.

Bids for the lagoons, part of the block grant requirements, were set for September, but the governor allowed an extension, Smit said.

The school facility will be designed to accommodate a community center and extended hours at least six days each week.

The proposed one-story facility will house up to 300 students from kindergarten through grade 12, which will allow for significant growth in the district which expects some 175 students this school year.

Smit said the ground breaking occurred before any bid approvals or even submissions because the event corresponded with the Wakpala pow wow.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"People never thought they would be getting a new school," she said. Residents were getting discouraged and the ground-breaking was a way to uplift spirits and it worked, she said.

Eleven new students were added this year through open enrollment, a new preschool program is in place and there was an increase in total enrollment. Last year there were 136 students and there could be as many as 175 this year, Smit said.

She said the staff, from cooks to teachers to administrators, numbers 37. This year, as with most schools, it was difficult to fill two of the teaching slots. The school is without a certified math or science teacher. A retired math teacher, however, will hold sessions at least twice a week and the science program will be taught through electronic means, Smit said.

The students and community members, through Gov. Bill Janklow's school wiring program, will have state-of-the-art technology at their finger tips with 200 computers to use as learning aids.

The new building will separate the grade levels into elementary, middle and high school areas. There also will be space for adult and GED programs. An early childhood section will house licensed daycare for students, the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and TWEP programs. A joint Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Head Start program and Wakpala Public School preschool program will be housed in the new facility.

A 320-seat cultural performance center will also be used for theatre productions and music programs .

The sports facility will include a full court with cross courts, locker rooms and weight and training rooms. A new football field will include full track and field facilities with seating for 800.

School board members include Robert Tiger, president, Pat Hawk, vice president, Dr. Bea Medicine, Milo Cadotte and Gladys Hawk.