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S.D. Supreme Court rules in favor of school district

After nearly two years of deliberating over a boundary petition, the Tea Area school board’s decision was affirmed.

In 2014, three families in the Westwood Valley area of Sioux Falls submitted a boundary petition to the Tea Area school board to get their property out of the district and into the Sioux Falls school district. The school board denied the petition at their March 25, 2014 meeting.

The three families involved appealed the board’s decision to the circuit court. A year ago, the circuit court judge ruled in favor of the school board. The petitioners appealed to the South Dakota Supreme Court who heard it on brief, meaning no oral arguments were heard.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the district Nov. 10, 2015. Superintendent Jennifer Lowery said the ruling shows that the school board followed the right processes in denying the petition.

“You’ll see in the decision by the chief justice that the school board’s decision was not arbitrary or capricious. That speaks highly of the school board and their processes,” Lowery said. “It was an affirming decision that the school board takes all decisions very seriously and considers a multitude of situations or reasonings and works hard to make the best decisions for the children that we have in our school district and for the patrons and taxpayers of our district.”

The three families involved in the petition all knowingly bought homes in the Tea Area school district and have open enrolled their children into the Sioux Falls school district.

Lowery said the ruling is important because school funding is based on the number of students enrolled in the school district and the levy on property in the school district. The Sioux Falls school district will get the student allocation for those students open enrolling into that district and Tea Area will get the levy from the property in the district’s boundary.

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