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November 08, 2012 05:00 PM

Schools Make Tough Choices After Failed Measure

Baltic, SD

School districts across South Dakota are scrambling to figure out how to make ends meet after voters failed to pass the one-cent sales tax increase.

After budget cuts over the last three years, school districts were hoping for a new stream of revenue to come their way from Initiated Measure 15. But with nearly 57 percent of voters saying no, districts are weighing tough options.

The Baltic School District faces a $100,000 deficit this year. Superintendent Robert Sittig says the extra penny sales tax increase would have help keep his struggling schools afloat.

"I was hopeful that the penny sales tax would go through and we'd have a more consistent and adequate form of revenue stream," Sittig said.

And, the parents we spoke with say they're disappointed to see the measure fail.

"I was sad," Ann Boer said. "My daughter is a teacher here, I have two grandsons who go to school here and the school system really needs the money. Teachers need pay. Schools need programs. It's just sad. I'd hoped more people would come out and vote."

The district expected to receive $300,000 per year if the measure passed, money Sittig says would barely cover the funding his district lost out on during recent budget cuts.

And now that the money isn't coming, Baltic and a lot of other small school districts will have to make some tough decisions, opt out of the state property tax freeze or make even more drastic cuts. 

"You can only cut so deep and we try and make the cuts to affect the students the least amount, but eventually it would affect students and it has, for a certain extent," Sittig said.

Initiated Measure 15 would have generated an estimated $180 million and would have been evenly split between education and Medicaid.

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