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School levy needed to maintain standards

by Daily Inter Lake
| May 1, 2022 12:00 AM

A strong community is often reflected in the local school system, where the foundation of a prosperous society is laid. There’s no better example than the greater Kalispell area and School District 5.

At Kalispell Public Schools, students have ample opportunity to achieve and exceed their goals, and eventually become the community leaders that will help shape a flourishing future for the valley.

Flathead and Glacier high school students are presented a diverse set of tools to choose from — whether its academic programs like STEM, Advanced Placement and International Bacalaureate, or through the fine arts, athletics or myriad other activities that are available.

Kalispell families are fortunate to have access to such a high quality public education system.

But the ability of School District 5 to maintain that gold standard is in jeopardy. Record inflation coupled with stagnant funding is threatening to drag the system down.

The cost of everything needed for the day-to-day operations of the school system is up, big time. Supplies cost more, labor costs more, technology costs more — it all costs more.

To stave off a decline in offerings, the school district is asking voters to support a modest $1.5 million levy for Kalispell high schools. A home with a taxable value of $400,000 would pay $50 a year to fund the levy, or about $4 a month.

The funding would go toward everything from teacher and support staff salaries to help maintain appropriate teacher-to-student ratios; to materials, technology, activities and academic programs that set the district apart.

School District 5 has done a remarkable job sustaining its offerings within the allowable budget, particularly when you consider that an operational levy for the high school district hasn’t passed since 2007 — when George W. Bush was president and the year the first iPhone was released.

It’s also worth considering that over the last 15 years, the district has grown by nearly 500 students; a rate that is poised to ramp up even further with the influx of new residents moving to the area.

Currently, the district operates at about 91% of its allowable budget. The levy would boost that to 97%, which is still below other AA districts like Missoula and Bozeman.

The time has come for School District 5 voters to mark yes on their ballots in support of this conservative levy request.

The funding isn’t earmarked for extravagant purchases or over-the-top wages — is about maintaining the high-quality education that local families have come to expect from one of the best school systems in the state.