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Tripp-Delmont sets May 2 opt-out election

TRIPP — After rallying to have their voices heard, Tripp-Delmont residents can mark May 2 on their calendars.

The date marks the district's opt-out election, set Monday night at a Tripp-Delmont School Board meeting. If voters pass the opt-out, it would allow the district to opt out of state-mandated tax limits, allowing the district to raise taxes.

The board passed the election date unanimously, with no discussion held on the subject.

At its February meeting, the Tripp-Delmont board decided to pursue a five-year, $400,000 spring opt-out, but at least 5 percent of voters signed a petition to send the resolution to a vote of the people.

Prior to the vote, Tripp-Delmont school officials and the school board will host a trio of public meetings on what they feel are benefits of the opt-out being passed.

The public meetings will be held at 7:30 p.m. March 30 at the Tripp-Delmont school's gym in Tripp; 8 p.m. April 6 at the Delmont Community Center; and 7:30 p.m. April 27 at the Tripp-Delmont gym. Superintendent Gail Swenson said the meetings are intended to inform the public about the district's current opt-out, the proposed opt-out and the impact the proposed opt-out would have on the public.

If the opt-out passes, the first installment of its funding would be received in May 2018. If it fails, the district would have until July 15 to re-vote. If it did not pass in the second vote, the opt-out would fail and the board would be faced with attempting to pass another opt-out resolution which could again be referred to a public vote, forming a consolidation plan with a neighboring school district or dissolving.

"I think when you come to the meetings and see the projections and the facts, I think that'll help," Swenson said. "After we ran through all of the scenarios, we feel this was the best option for the least amount we could put in the opt-out."

School officials began talks about reorganization toward the beginning of the school year, when enrollment trends showed Tripp-Delmont's enrollment has been cut in half in the past 16 years, recording a 52 percent drop between 2000 and 2016.

To vote on the district's opt-out, a person must be a registered voter whose primary residence is in the Tripp-Delmont school district. The Delmont Community Center and Tripp School will serve as polling places for the election and will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on May 2.