Levy passage is critical for our schools

Guest Opinion By Jeanne Seifert

If you are a registered voter in the Glendive School District you recently received a ballot in the mail for the upcoming School Election. This is a mail out ballot only and requires you to complete the ballot and return it to the Dawson County Courthouse by 8 p.m. on May 2. On the ballot you are being asked to select a candidate for the board and to vote on two General Fund mill levies.  These levies include a General Fund mill levy for DCHS and a General Fund mill levy for the Glendive Elementary Schools.  I would like to tell you a little about these levies and why I think it is important that we as a community support them.  

Montana law requires that schools get voter approval to spend tax dollars every year and sets the limit on the amount of money that can be requested from taxpayers.  While the levies can look like a large amount of money what they really do is authorize the schools to stay funded at a level that is close to the level of the previous year.  General Fund levies are the dollars that pay for operational expenses, books, teachers, etc. They are not requesting new facilities. The request for the High School levy this year is $71,735.22 and the request for the Elementary levy (Grades K-8) is $124,197.52.     

School budgets, much like our personal budgets, experience increases in the cost of utilities, insurance, food and supplies. And like our household budgets we look for ways to trim our costs.   The Board and administration of the Glendive Schools have reviewed the budget, made difficult choices and tried our level best to contain costs while providing a quality education and meeting the requirements of state law regarding staffing levels and class size.  Unfortunately, even with the successful passage of the levy we will experience some significant cuts as the result of a decrease in our state funding and a significant increase in some of our fixed costs.  

So how, you may ask, will this affect me? The total cost for the Elementary levy for a person who owns a home with a taxable value of $100,000 is $11/year and for the person who owns a home with a taxable value of $200,000 it is $22.01/year.    The total cost for the High School levy for a person who owns a home with a taxable value of $100,000 is $4.51/year and for the person who owns a home with a taxable value of $200,000 it is $9.02/year. So if you own a home with a taxable value of $100,000 you will pay a total of $15.51 per year and if you own a home with a taxable value of $200,000 you will pay a total of $31.03.  

Glendive has a lot to celebrate in our schools — quality educators, great students, dedicated administrators and caring staff who are all committed to assuring that every student has an opportunity to succeed in school.   Sports, music, art and academic excellence are part of the mission of the Glendive Schools and something we as a community have agreed is important.  

We hope voters will take time to consider how important these levies are for the Glendive schools and then take the time to vote in support of the Glendive Schools on May 2.  Schools are part of the backbone of the community and are important not only for students but for the economic health of our  community.   If you have questions please contact a Glendive Unified School Board member or Superintendent Ross Farber.

Jeanne Seifert is the Chair of the Glendive Unified School Board. She can be reached at seifert@midrivers.com.

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