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Tripp-Delmont opt-out resolution headed to a public vote

TRIPP -- Tripp-Delmont residents will have their say in the district's future. The board made a formal opt-out declaration in mid-February. Since then, residents turned in a petition to send the resolution to a public vote, Tripp-Delmont Superint...

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TRIPP - Tripp-Delmont residents will have their say in the district's future.

The board made a formal opt-out declaration in mid-February. Since then, residents turned in a petition to send the resolution to a public vote, Tripp-Delmont Superintendent Gail Swenson said Monday.

At the two most recent meetings, the Tripp-Delmont board ironed out details of a potential five-year, $400,000 spring opt-out, but at least 5 percent of voters signed a petition to temporarily halt the progression of the resolution.

The resolution, if passed by the public vote, would allow Tripp-Delmont to opt out of state-mandated tax limits, which would allow the district to raise taxes. The board will set an election at its next meeting, rescheduled to March 20, Swenson said. Monday's meeting was postponed due to multiple administrators' illnesses.

At the board's February meeting, Swenson said a tentative election date is May 2.

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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.

And, according to locals at previous meetings, the vote likely won't pass easily.

Tripp residents have told the board that farmers would be the most affected by the opt-out, and some might not be willing to pay more without "less overhead," referring to other measures to reduce operating costs in the district, such as staff cuts.

The board felt enough public pushback in February to make a motion to rescind its decision to pursue the spring opt-out, but the motion died due to a lack of a second.

School Board President Jeff Kramer said waiting to pursue a later opt-out would put Tripp-Delmont in a difficult position, noting that, should the election fail, there would not be enough time to create a consolidation plan with a neighboring district.

School officials began talks about reorganization toward the beginning of the school year, when enrollment trends showed Tripp-Delmont has lost 17 percent of its student body in four years and the school's enrollment has been cut in half in the past 16 years, recording a 52 percent drop between 2000 and 2016.

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