This is a paid piece from the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.
Simplified: If you want to see if a community is growing, an easy place to look is the schools. Sioux Metro schools have seen growth across the region, with some districts growing by 20% or more in the last five years. Here's a breakdown.
Why it matters
- More people in a community leads to more kids in the local schools. And while there are lots of ways to measure population and economic increases, a growing school system is a good indicator that a community itself is growing.
- School districts in the metro have seen consistent – and sometimes tremendous – growth over the last five years, with nine of 11 districts showing an overall increase between Fall 2018 and Fall 2022, per South Dakota Department of Education data.
- That growth in K-12 schools has also meant new development in regional communities. Several districts have added new school buildings, and, along with those new schools come new housing developments, restaurants and more.
"We've got many ways to measure growth in the region, but seeing the number of kids in K-12 schools continue to increase is so heartening," said Jesse Fonkert, president and CEO of the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance. "It just shows that growth is here to stay."
Show me the numbers
Harrisburg continues to be the fastest-growing school district in the region, with more than 5,800 students.
- That's an increase of more than 3% year-over-year and an increase of 23% over the last five years.
Tea and Baltic also saw more than 20% growth in the last five years.
- Tea has added nearly 400 students since 2018, and total K-12 enrollment is nearing 2,300.
- Baltic added nearly 100 students over the last five years for a total nearing 600.
Sioux Falls remains far and away the largest school district in both the region and the state with more than 24,000 students. The district has added more than 300 kids since 2018 for a total growth of around 1.3%.
McCook Central School District saw 7% growth in the last five years, with a total student population closing in on 400.
Lennox, Brandon Valley and Dell Rapids school districts have each grown steadily by between 2.5% and 3.5% over the last five years.
Canton and West Central school districts have also seen growth, but at a slower rate around 1% or less.
Only two school districts in the region saw a smaller student population today than in 2018: Tri-Valley and Garretson.
- That said, it's a difference of about 20 and 40 kids, respectively
What happens next?
As schools continue to grow, many area districts are looking at expanding facilities.
- There are already expansion plans and/or new buildings in the works in Tea, Harrisburg, Sioux Falls, Tri-Valley and Brandon Valley.