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$39 million bond passes to expand Tea Area High School

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 10:24 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Residents in Tea faced a big decision Tuesday. The community voted in favor of a $39 million bond that will fund a major expansion of the high school.

The measure passed with 86% of the popular vote.

The Tea Area School District is nearing its 20th anniversary and continues to grow. The high school was the first building built when the district was formed, and at that time also served as the middle school, housing just 68 students.

According to building permit data from the city, the district expects 900 new students over the next five years.

“When I came here in 2011 we had about 1,280 students, and now we’re looking at 2,300-plus, and that’s just in ten years,” Tea Area School District Superindent Jennifer Lowery said.

Currently, the high school serves 536 students. That number is expected to jump to about 800 in two years, which is why the School Board took a deep dive into planning ahead.

“We know we built 78 elementary classrooms in the last ten years, and all of those students are coming to the high school,” Lowery said.

The build will essentially double the size of the high school, adding 25 new classrooms, a performing arts theatre, an auxiliary gym, a wrestling room, and renovated strength and conditioning amenities.

Lowery says the expansion sets the district and the community up for future success.

“(Tuesday’s) vote will really lay the path for the next 20-plus years as this town says who we want to be and what Titan pride is,” Lowery said.

Residents see the value of investing in their kids as well.

”There are people moving into the community and it’s constantly growing, so they’ll have to do something eventually, and the sooner the better,” John Gates, who voted ‘yes’ on the bond, said.

Though, the decision didn’t come lightly.

“Financially, I get that this can be a burden for some people, money is tight for many people right now, but our children’s futures are what is important,” Tea resident Michelle Baartman said.

In the first year of this bond measure, property taxes will increase by $6 per $100,000 of value. In the second year, the increase will be $50 per $100,000 of value. After that, the rate is expected to come back down because of continued growth in the community.

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