LEAD — Instead of learning about the ins and outs of running a business at the school of hard knocks upon graduation, Lead-Deadwood High School students will have the chance to learn a little right in their campus classrooms right now.
“We’re pumped about it,” said School District Superintendent Dr. Erik Person. “Right now we’re proposing four core classes in the business program – an introduction to business, an accounting I, a marketing principals, and a business management class. As kind of a focal point of the business program, a key component is going to be a student-run store … looking at marketing principles and business management, in those two classes, those kids would primarily be running that store. Definitely under the guidance of their certified teacher.”
The curriculum for the courses will consist of key business concepts taught through highly engaging business simulations and real-world hands-on experience that students will gain through managing and operating Digger Mart, a student store.
Person went on to say the intro to business and accounting I students would have some interaction with the store, but it wouldn’t be as big a part of their curriculum.
Collaboration with existing club efforts will be key to the store’s success.
“I think there’s an opportunity where we could partner with the Booster Club to make apparel more available, assist the Booster Club in managing their inventory … and I think that there’s enough of the pie that we could sell Digger apparel in our student store every day and not take a bite out of, probably actually help.”
Food items that comply with the federal school lunch program will also likely be part of the store, for example, coffee shop items.
“The main purpose of the store is an educational tool,” Person said. “First and foremost, the store will be a vital component of a hands-on business curriculum. A secondary goal of the store will be profitability, as profitability will help the program to be partially self-sustaining.”
Students will have considerable input on the goods stocked and sold in the store.
“Some of the items for sale in the student store could include Digger apparel, gear, and merchandise, snack items that meet USDA Smart Snack guidelines; coffee drinks and smoothies that meet USDA Smart Snack guidelines; school supplies, and some manufactured goods from other L-DHS CTE programs.”
In the initial startup, the district will utilize the substantial resources of the Mary Jensen Estate, which were given to district to be used to train students in acquiring business skills.
The district was bequeathed $690,000 from Jensen’s estate and in September, the sale of a house in Florida that belonged to Jensen’s deceased daughter brought in another $45,000 to the district.
“Some of those startup costs will include, but are not limited to, remodeling of a space for a storefront within the school building, remodeling of indoor and outdoor seating areas for snack and drink sales, equipment, signage, and initial inventory.”
The 2022-2023 budget for the business management program is $292,000 and $117,000 annually through 2026-2027.
School Board Member Amber Vogt suggested gathering ideas and input from Black Hills State University’s Business College in an effort to collaborate.
“Any real-world experience that you get – business is way different learning it in a book and accounting in a book than actually going and doing it,” said School Board Member Suzanne Rogers.
Person said there are several students who may go into a trade and/or run their own business.
“Maybe we could give them business skills here,” he said.
Discussion then turned to the Mary Jensen money.
“If you look at the first year, we’re talking about taking a sizeable chunk out of that and then kind of weaning off of that in future years,” Person said. “Hopefully, then, when we get to a situation where we’re generating revenue, maybe we could replenish that fund a little bit to make that a sustainable thing, so down the road, if we need new equipment, new curriculum, that kind of thing, that would be a source that could sustain that program years down the road.”
School Board Member Tim Madsen pointed out one thing every business needs.
“Every business now needs an online component,” Madsen said, suggesting, perhaps, tying the business to an online store. “Every business now has to have an online component to make it successful.”
Person said that could be a good inter-departmental collaboration, as well, with, for example, web design classes.
“What if, for instance, the lunch program had a presence in our Digger Mart?” Person said. “Like maybe a grab and go meal that came from this kitchen, but maybe that would help that part.”
The plan is to get the business track up and running for the fall 2022-2023 school year and post the teaching position associated with it in January 2022.
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