Rounds tells newspapers he is against forced consolidation

Rounds tells newspapers he is against forced consolidation
Gov. Mike Rounds told members of the South Dakota Newspaper Association Jan. 25 that he won�t support efforts to force small schools to consolidate.

Newspaper Association members were in Pierre for the annual Newspaper Day at the Legislature that has traditionally included a press conference with the governor.

A bill was introduced this session that would make schools consolidate if they had less than 200 students.

�Why is 200 so special,� Rounds asked. �What�s the difference in the magic of a particular number. I don�t see the logic in that.�

He said he thinks it works better for individual districts to make that choice, which usually comes after they can�t field a football or basketball team.

But he questioned whether those same young people were losing opportunities because their schools were so small they could not take advanced courses or have the most qualified teachers.

�This should not be a threat,� Rounds said. �This should be a way we choose to do business.�

Primary school teachers do a good job of teaching a wide range of subjects, Rounds said. But once students reach high school they suffer if they don�t have a multitude of opportunities to expand their horizons.

�You�ve taken away an opportunity a young person should have,� Rounds said.

He travels to communities that have small schools, pointing out the things they do well and listing challenges they face. Schools can share resources when they�re only a few miles apart, he said. This isn�t always as easy as it sounds.

�Is there fear of doing something different than what we do today,� Rounds asked. �You bet there is.�

Rounds was asked whether he would support a bill to eliminate open fields. The practice allows Game, Fish and Parks Department officers to enter private land looking for people who are violating the state�s hunting and

fishing laws.

�I have no intention of taking away the legal ability of law officers of the Game, Fish and Parks,� he said.

However, Rounds said he told officers they should have �a darned good reason to be on a person�s private property.�

Rep. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center, said during a separate Newspaper Day press conference for Republican party leadership, that he anticipates another open fields bill being introduced this year. He supported the measure the last time it was introduced.

�My position hasn�t changed,� he said.

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