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BOE considers new open enrollment policy; Growth leads to financial reconsiderations

Tea’s Board of Education held a regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, September 10. A work session preceded the meeting. Each school facility presented goals to meet student needs during the session.

Legacy Elementary aims to work within the community and increase civic leadership principles. Both elementary schools also plan on building teachers and intervention strategies. Middle school goals focus on developing honor curriculum. Tea Area High School aims to meet student needs and prepare them for post-graduation life.

Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Lowery spoke on behalf of Tea High School during the regular meeting public comment period. She explained homecoming activities such as the coronation and parade.

The department of education approved a fiscal year 2018 report, according to Business manager Chris Esping. Esping plans on a budget amendment once increasing enrollment numbers are finalized.

The board also approved a resolution needed to adopt the 2019 budget. The resolution authorizes limited tax general obligation certificates for $6,000,000. This estimated cost replaces a $4,800,000 estimate from 2017, according to Esping.

This resolution prompted discussion of Tea’s growth. Lowery predicts a need to expand the middle and high school in the future.

“We’re growing faster than what we projected we’d grow based on 10 year trends. If you look around town, the growth is just continuing.” said Lowery

The resolution maximizes cash flow while interest rates are low, according to Lowery. Costs covered include roof repairs, land acquisitions, elementary additions, pneumatic controls and other district improvements.

Operations Manager Wayne Larsen and Jans Corporation Project Manager Arlan Van Voorst provided information on the Venture Elementary School project. Van Voorst estimates that the project remains three weeks behind schedule but progresses as weather cooperates.

Finding ways to bring as many workers on site at a time became a priority to speed up processes. Storm drain installation nears completion as concrete, plumbing infrastructure and other components progress.

Van Voorst and Larsen provided updates on Frontier Elementary’s addition. Larsen says they hope to finish classroom portions of the addition by the start of next school year.

Van Voorst explained that construction may gain an early start. He says potentially accepting bids in October would allow progress to begin in October and November if weather permits.

The district’s open enrollment policy may also experience growth due to construction. Lowery requested a first reading of a possible policy for the entire district. New conditions would max out class capacities at 15 students.

Capacities currently vary from 20 to 23 students, depending on grade levels. The board focused on ways to better serve students living within the tax-paying district with policy changes.

“As homes and industries build, we’ll try to maximize buildings we have, based the on the people funding those buildings and recognizing the investment that they have,” said Lowery.

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