ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

'Emotional' points a non-factor in possible Tripp-Delmont, Armour consolidation

TRIPP -- It's decision time for the Tripp-Delmont School Board. Following a joint school board meeting with Armour Thursday, and Parkston Monday, the Tripp-Delmont board has met with both school districts who remain in consolidation talks with th...

Tripp-Detmont School Board President Jeff Kramer, right, listens as Armour Superintendent Andrea Powell, left, speaks during a joint school board meeting between the two districts Thursday night at the Tripp School's gym. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)
Tripp-Detmont School Board President Jeff Kramer, right, listens as Armour Superintendent Andrea Powell, left, speaks during a joint school board meeting between the two districts Thursday night at the Tripp School's gym. (Caitlynn Peetz/Republic)

TRIPP - It's decision time for the Tripp-Delmont School Board.

Following a joint school board meeting with Armour Thursday, and Parkston Monday, the Tripp-Delmont board has met with both school districts who remain in consolidation talks with the district and plans to vote on a consolidation preference at Monday's regularly scheduled monthly meeting.

Unlike discussions Monday in Parkston, there was less of a question mark punctuating the more "emotional" points of a consolidation, as the two schools already share an athletics co-op.

And with the athletics co-op already in effect, the boards said Thursday, students from both districts are already accustomed to one another and would only be adjusting to new staff.

"We have school colors, a mascot, a school song - those emotional things are very hard," Tripp-Delmont Superintendent Gail Swenson said. "That would at least be something."

ADVERTISEMENT

But, Armour Superintendent Andrea Powell said, the Tripp-Delmont district's non-negotiable item of maintaining an attendance center in Tripp may be difficult to accommodate.

To an extent, some Tripp-Delmont students would likely remain in the current Tripp-Delmont building, but bussing Armour students to Tripp is not possible.

"I'm not saying we can't look at options, but, in my community, I would not be able to pass this, if I said we were loading students that we currently house and shipping them to away," Powell said.

And Tripp-Delmont Board Member Lynn Schoenfelder was curious how reorganization would look for staff at each school. Primarily, Schoenfelder asked for "everybody to be equal," should all staff be released and a rehiring process occur.

Powell said it's too soon to tell, but Armour intends to be fair, open and honest with Tripp-Delmont, as both district's have "exceptional" staff.

"When we make projections from a bird's eye view, we can cause a lot of fear in a lot of people," Powell said. "I don't think we're even close to being able to say how that would happen down the line - there's still a lot to be done."

Throughout the lengthy process of choosing its consolidation preference, Tripp-Delmont has maintained the notion that a consolidation is its backup plan. First, the district is focusing on opting out of state-mandated tax limits, which would allow the district to raise taxes. Tripp-Delmont can currently collect $300,000 in tax dollars, but it could rise to $600,000, if approved.

In 2000, there were 296 students enrolled in the Tripp-Delmont School District, and as of Monday, Swenson reported 162 students enrolled, representing a loss of 134 students, or approximately 54 percent of the student body. Swenson hoped Tripp-Delmont would receive more state funding following the passage of a half percent sales tax increase intended to bolster South Dakota teacher salaries, but the district received $14,690, one of the lowest totals of new money in the state.

ADVERTISEMENT

Paired together, the declining enrollment and low funding allocations has severely altered Tripp-Delmont's timeline for a consolidation. Originally, the board believed it had several years to make a decision, but now the district must acquire a new opt out, consolidate or dissolve in the next two years.

Tripp-Delmont's consolidation talks with several area districts began in August with Avon, Menno, Armour, Parkston and Scotland, and has since been narrowed down to two - Parkston and Armour.

In an August survey of Tripp-Delmont district residents, 58 people said they would prefer consolidation with Armour, and 71 said Parkston, should a consolidation occur. Surveyed members of Tripp-Delmont's staff preferred Armour over Parkston by a 14-12 margin.

What To Read Next
Snow removal began Thursday and will continue into the upcoming week, city officials say.
Local governments erase invisible routes hunters use to access public land
Navigator CO2 Ventures is hoping to streamline the application process in Illinois as they add an additional pipeline to the mix.
Members Only
“We had a ton of nominations this year for all the awards,” Davison County Sheriff Steve Harr said of all the employee nominations.