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Tea School Board Approves New $10.5M Bond

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Leaders in one of the fastest growing school districts in South Dakota were searching for answers Wednesday night. They were regrouping after an $11 million bond issue failed by just 31 votes four weeks ago.

Wednesday night the Tea School Board approved a new bond. This time the bond is $10.5 million, just $500,000 less than the previous one.  

John Herr, President Tea School Board said, "We listened to a lot of the feedback that we had from the public."

Tea School Board Members have agreed on a new bond that they hope will be more passable than the last one.

The previous bond would have paid for three different projects. The new one will do the same, but the plan is a bit different. A $2 million addition to Tea Area Elementary is now $3.4 million. The plan, besides the price tag, hasn't really changed. The goal is to just get everyone into a building and out of temporary ones.
Then there's the new elementary school on the north side of Tea, which has caused a lot of controversy.

"We've changed that elementary to a pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, and made it one section," Herr said.

In the old bond referendum the school was four sections (four classrooms per grade) of pre-kindergarten through fourth grade, leaving some concerned about classrooms being left empty and money wasted.  This new plan is a little over $5 million rather than almost $6 million, and it leaves room for the district to expand when the time is needed.
 "We didn't have a plan to complete the performing arts center," Herr said.

 The third project was to build just the shell of the performing arts center at Tea Area High School. That plan had many in the community telling board members they wanted a center they could use. So now the $3.5 million price tag has risen to $4.9 million so students and community members alike can take the stage sooner.
 "We had a 57 percent approval rating on the last bond, so it's not like we had to start completely over," Herr said.

If the bond is approved by voters, school board members said this time they will have the ability to borrow $3 million in capital outlay certificates.  That money will be used to finish other phases of each project if needed.

The voters will decide on the bond issue Dec. 10.
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