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May 19, 2018 10:05 PM

West Central Opt-Out Passes; Secures School Funding

Hartford, SD

The West Central School district asked for an opt out from taxpayers to continue funding programs like gymnastics, drama, and even save a language arts position. 

That opt out passed, and now the school says they're thankful for the community support for their district. 

"We would have cut a high school language arts teacher, we would have cut an elementary school art teacher, as well as cuts to our coaching staff," West Central Superintendent Brad Berens said. 

There were a lot of programs on the chopping block for the West Central school district. 

"It would have been the entire gymnastics program, the drama program, that would have been gone," Berens said. 

A four-year opt out plan increasing school funding by $400,000 each year passed, and saved those programs. 

"Very relieved that the voters put their confidence in us, to continue providing the programs that our students need for their education," Berens said. 

David Tuch is glad there aren't any cuts to his program. He already teaches gym and driver's education in addition to art class. 

"Whatever job a person goes into, art is always going to compliment it. Whether it's in science, math, social studies. People out there are always wanting people to have an art background, with problem solving and solutions," Tuch said. 

The opt out plan secures West Central's budget for the next four years. After that, the district will have to come up with a different plan. 

"We know from year to year, state funding varies. Will they have a windfall of consistent revenue funds that they can commit to education? We don't know," Berens said. 

Without the opt out the district would dip into reserve funds; administrators say that can be dangerous. 

"If the school were to put itself in a position where the reserve funds were gone, you basically are looking to shut down the school," Berens said. 

West Central's superintendent says a big reason why they asked for the opt-out is it's important for the district to be able to be competitive with neighboring Sioux Falls, and that's hard to do without having the same programs available. 

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