Tea voters are back at the polls. For the third time in nine months, the district is asking them to raise taxes to give students more room to learn. And the decision will likely come down to just a handful of votes.
Last September, 59 percent of Tea voters said yes to an $11 million plan. But that wasn't enough. Supporters fell 30 votes short of the super majority needed to pass. In December, a slightly smaller plan failed by just 14 votes.
The most recent plan and price tag are smaller, totaling just under $10 million. It would include 14 new classrooms and a cafetorium at the elementary school. The bond would also pay for a 614-seat performing arts center.
The polls opened at 7 a.m. Tuesday at the District Education Center. A lot of people casting their ballots didn't say if they voted yes or no, and the ones who did speak were split.
"I think they need a performing arts center. I think it would be a great addition. I think it would be great for our younger kids," Caitlin Schawebach said.
Jennifer Leither of Sioux Falls lives in the Tea School District, but her two kids go to school in Sioux Falls. She understands that Tea needs to upgrade its elementary school, but she thinks the price tag is still too high.
"Why not take off the performing arts center, put that on hold and focus on the addition to the current elementary school and a new elementary school," Leither said.
Schawebach thinks the new additions will help attract students to the growing district.
"I think having the auditorium and even the addition to the school, I think it would make a lot more families come in," Schawebach said.
But Liether says that Tea needs to understand that it's a smaller district and it doesn't have a big district budget.
"They made the decision 10, 11 years ago to split from Lennox and when they did that, they became one of the smaller school districts in the state and yet they always want, it seems like, the biggest and the best of everything. I think they need to learn to spend within their means," Liether said.
The polls are open until 7 p.m.