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Burke opt-out vote leads Tuesday's slate of area elections

Burke 2.jpg
The community of Burke is shown in this 2018 file photo. (Republic file photo.)

Voters in the Burke School District will consider renewing the school’s opt-out measure at a decreased amount at the ballot box on Tuesday.

Burke currently has a $300,000 opt-out but is asking voters to continue with a lower $250,000 opt-out annually for the next five years. The district has had an opt-out since 2005 and a renewal would continue through the 2025 taxes payable year.

It is one of a handful of local school and municipal elections taking place in area communities on Tuesday. Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voting on the Burke school opt-out will take place at Burke High School. An opt-out allows local school districts the opportunity to increase taxes and otherwise “opt out” of the state’s property tax freeze.

School leaders and school board members have advocated that opt-out funds allow the school district to provide career and technical education programs. Some of those have included Project Lead the Way courses, agriculture programming and Advanced Placement classes, beyond what they say would otherwise be the basic-level curriculum.

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Burke’s district had 275 students in grades K-12 during the 2018-19 school year.

Sixty-five school districts in the state have an opt-out in place. Opt-out dollars go toward the school’s general fund, which is used to pay school operational expenses, to pay salaries, utilities and school supplies. Opt-out funds can’t be used to pay for facility upgrades or construction projects, equipment, textbooks or school buses. Burke was discussing a building addition to its school earlier this year but postponed those discussions due to COVID-19.

The district's campus was badly damaged by an Aug. 6, 2019 tornado, but school officials said the opt-out request is not related to the tornado damage, which is being covered by insurance.

Other area elections include:

  • Corsica-Stickney School Board: Two seats are open, both three-year terms: Robyn Denning, Shannon Tolsma, Jennifer Van Gorp and Matt Woerner. Douglas County residents should vote at the high school music room in Corsica, while Aurora and Davison County residents should vote at the elementary school lunch room in Stickney.

  • Delmont Town Board: One, three-year term: Lynette Ellingson, Teresa Richardson, Ken Rosewall, Earla Strid and Crystal Travis. Voting will occur at the Delmont Community Center.

  • Howard City Council: A two-year term in Ward 3: Gerald Adler or Eric Rentschler. Voting takes place at the Howard Municipal Building.

  • Scotland City Council: A two-year term in Ward 2: Jerry Nelson or Victor Settje. Voting takes place at the Scotland City Offices.

  • Scotland School Board: (three, three-year terms open): Damon Mogck, Ryan Robb, Andrew Rokusek, Lee Sayler. Voting takes place at the Scotland High School gym lobby.

Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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