It's a hot button bond issue, the Tea Area School District is hoping to improve it's current schools as well as break ground on an elementary school along it's northern boundary with Sioux Falls. The roughly $11 million bond issue will put an addition on the elementary school in Tea as well as a performing arts center at the High School. The district says the improvements are long overdue and growth is prompting the need for a new school.
It is said, "build it and they will come." The Tea Area School District dreams this field just south of the Family Wellness center on the southwest side of Sioux Falls will become the home of their new elementary school. But the neighbors aren't sharing the same dream.
"The students of Tea do need quality schools and they do need a quality education but I think this is the wrong thing at the wrong time." Said Chad Zortman, a homeowner and potential neighbor to the proposed new school.
Zortman says his is not an anti-Tea message. He believes it's a waste of tax dollars for folks on the north side of the district. Many of the kids already open enroll in Sioux Falls schools and won't utilize the improvements provided by the issue.
"Tea residents should be concerned about it because it's a waste of money for them too! Because it's a school that they will not utilize, as administrators told them that their students will not be bussed to the school, so why would they want to use it?"
The bond vote has become a border war, as 'Vote No' signs have popped up on key roadways.
However, just a few miles south, the signage starts to change as the growing community is ready to take the next step.
"We are busting at the seams right now we don't have room for upcoming grades in the current elementary school the way it's situated and with the growth that's coming in the north part of the district, the elementary school will help relieve some of that." Said Tea Area School Board President John Herr.
But to ease the congestion comes at a cost.
"Basically it means $22 per month in additional taxes on top of that were already paying, making our area the highest taxed district in the state." Said Zortman.
"The lines were drawn the way they were drawn, they bought their homes in the Tea School District and regardless of how big the city of Sioux Falls grows that doesn't change the boundary for the school districts." Said Herr.
For now, it's just a field. Time and ballots will determine whether or not class will be in session come 2015.
Regardless of how the vote turns out, there is a boundary petition to have around 60 homes along the Tea border be annexed into the Sioux Falls School District. The Tea Area School Board will be meeting to discuss that issue on Wednesday. The bond vote is also critical because the if the issue fails, the sale of the land where the new school will be built will be nullified.
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