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Voters in Tea narrowly reject $11M school measure

TEA (AP) — Voters in Tea have narrowly rejected an $11 million school bond measure to keep up with a growing student body.

The money would have funded two school additions and another elementary school in the southeastern South Dakota city.

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About 57 percent of the 1,105 people who voted Tuesday favored the measure, but it needed 60 percent approval to pass. It would have cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $132 more in property taxes per year.

"It makes it hard, because the board is really going to have to sit down and decide where to go from here," Tea Superintendent Jennifer Lowery told the Argus Leader. "So close, so close."

Lowery said she anticipates another attempt at a bond vote in the next few years.

The school district has been experiencing enrollment growth of about 6 percent a year. The most contested piece of the plan to deal with the growth was the construction of an elementary on the north side of the district. Several residents say they live closer to Sioux Falls than to Tea and shouldn't be financially responsible for Tea's schools.

"No disrespect to the Tea School District, but I am literally footsteps away from the Sioux Falls School District and feel that's where we belong," said Chad Zortman.

Several residents near the proposed elementary school site earlier this year sought to attach 68 residential lots to the Sioux Falls School District. That district approved the idea but the Tea school board rejected it. More petitions have since been filed.