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Clay County Schools

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Phone: 605-658-3363


Hours: The Reading Room is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. -  4:00 p.m. Appointments are strongly encouraged and staff are available to meet with you either in-person or virtually, Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Holidays and other exceptions.

Location: Room 321, I.D. Weeks Library


Collection Summary

Title Clay County Schools
Span Dates 1862-1971
Bulk Dates (bulk dates, 1910-1970)
Quantity 2 linear ft.
Printed Material Printed Materials are located in Box 1.
Location     Archives and Special Collections, University Libraries, University of South Dakota.

The Clay County (SD) Public Schools were organized in 1866, and by 1879 there were fifty-four districts.  Franklin Taylor was appointed as the first Superintendent.  In 1877, Vermillion, SD established its own independent school district.  Because they had fewer community resources and less financial support, rural schools could not keep up with the changes in curriculum.  Consolidation was proposed to alleviate the problem.
      The plan for school consolidation was proposed as early as 1900, but it was not until 1951 that a school reorganization measure was enacted by the South Dakota legislature.  This measure left wide latitude for the local school boards to determine when and how reorganization or consolidation should be put into action.  Clay County did not act on the issue until 1961.  By that time, enrollment in rural school districts had declined and some schools had already closed.  A state referendum for compulsory reorganization was placed on the ballot and passed in1968.  Most rural schools were closed in 1969, and all were closed by 1971.  The closed rural school districts were consolidated with the surrounding school districts of Beresford, Irene, Gayville – Volin, Wakonda, and Vermillion.

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