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Tripp-Delmont residents ready for vote following final opt-out meeting

TRIPP -- With the last of three informational meetings under their belts, residents of the Tripp-Delmont School District can now set their sights on Tuesday's opt-out vote.

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TRIPP - With the last of three informational meetings under their belts, residents of the Tripp-Delmont School District can now set their sights on Tuesday's opt-out vote.

In what appeared to have become routine for the Tripp-Delmont School Board, members held the final meeting in regards to a proposed opt-out Thursday night at the school's gym, giving a presentation explaining why the board feels an opt-out is necessary, then answering written questions from attendees.

For the first time in the series of informational meetings, residents were granted a 30-minute open forum, during which each individual was limited to two minutes to speak. During the open forum, residents questioned whether the opt-out would be enough to sustain the school, whether multi-age classrooms would be beneficial and the effect of open enrollment on the district.

Melissa Schmidt, a parent whose child open enrolls to the Parkston School District, told the board it needs to focus on young children who are not yet school-age to build up its enrollment. Schmidt told the approximately 70-person crowd about a scenario in which she invited a Tripp-Delmont administrator to attend a Birth to Three meeting with her family and child, but no representatives from the school attended.

"The school has apologized to me and I very much appreciate that, but this is how you're going to keep kids here," Schmidt said. "We have to look at future as well."

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The handful of comments focused on multi-age classrooms varied, with some speakers urging the school board to reconsider with others voicing support of keeping each grade separate.

The five-year, $400,000 opt-out has been met with resistance from many community members who have questioned the district's commitment to cutting operating costs at the school struggling to maintain its enrollment.

The resolution, if passed by Tuesday's public vote, would allow Tripp-Delmont to opt out of state-mandated tax limits, which would allow the district to raise taxes.

After months of often heated debates between both community and board members, residents will head to the polls Tuesday to vote on the proposed opt-out. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Delmont Community Center and Tripp School.

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.

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