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State, Oglala Lakota school district agree to build high school on Pine Ridge Reservation
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State, Oglala Lakota school district agree to build high school on Pine Ridge Reservation

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Gov. Kristi Noem and members of the Oglala Lakota County School District pose for a picture Thursday after announcing a plan to build a public high school on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Gov. Kristi Noem and Oglala Lakota County school officials announced Thursday a partnership to build the first local public high school on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and the first career and technical education high school on a reservation in South Dakota.

“Building a physical CTE high school in Oglala Lakota County will bolster the area’s workforce and empower students with real-life skills and career opportunities to help them succeed after graduation,” Noem said. “This will have a profound impact on the economic growth of Oglala Lakota County and South Dakota."

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The Oglala Lakota County School District serves 22 communities within 2,000 square miles. Currently, the district operates from virtual locations that can serve between 50 and 250 students at a time. The other high schools in the county are federal Bureau of Indian Education or private schools.

"Building a physical high school will undoubtedly boost education in our district and create a launchpad for our students’ career development,” said Anthony Fairbanks, superintendent of Oglala Lakota County School District.

The high school will be constructed, in part, through funds from the State Aid Intercept Program, a program designed to reduce interest costs for school districts through credit enhancement. Between refinancing and a new tax credit, this will save the school approximately $6 million.

Scheduled to open in August 2020, the school will enroll approximately 400 students.

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