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2023 school election results: Kalispell levy requests a mixed bag

by HILARY MATHESON
Daily Inter Lake | May 3, 2023 8:28 AM

Tuesday's school elections concluded at 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 2. The Daily Inter Lake is posting unofficial results as they become available.

Updated 1:54 a.m., May 3

Kalispell Public Schools saw mixed results at the ballot box Tuesday. By the time votes were tallied at about 3 a.m., Wednesday, it was evident the roughly $2.5 million high school district general fund levy had failed, 8,849 to 6,027.

“We are also naturally disappointed that the passage of the high school general fund levy fell short as it would have been pivotal in providing very needed resources in serving our students and staff,” Superintendent Micah Hill said in a statement. “We truly believe our high school students are worthy of a supportive community.”

If the high school district, whose voters include Kalispell and 13 outlying partner school districts, had approved the levy, the annual tax increase for owners of homes with assessed values of $300,00 would have been $60.89.

The $354,327 elementary district general fund levy fared better among voters, passing 3,762 to 3,331. Owners of homes with assessed values of $300,000 can expect annual taxes to increase by $20.11.

General fund levies cover a broad range of day-to-day costs related to educating students and operating and maintaining facilities. This includes teacher salaries, textbooks and supplies, utilities and technology, for example. General fund levies, once approved, are typically permanent.

“We are grateful to our community for their continued support of the elementary general fund levy and appreciate all those who voted," Hill said in a statement. "This is a great reminder to us that our community values and supports the educational efforts for our elementary students and KPS views you as a partner in educating our children.”

IN THE Olney-Bissell School District, voters passed a 15-year building reserve levy that will generate about $53,053 a year, or a total of approximately $795,795, to fund facility and infrastructure improvements. The measure passed on a 184 to 144 vote, per the preliminary results.

The owner of a home with an assessed value of $300,000 can expect an annual tax increase of $52.65 with the levy’s approval.

The building reserve levy will be used to fund improvement projects, including installing a new septic system, replacing the existing school building roof cover and excavation work to place a modular building on site. The modular building will be bought with Covid-relief funding and will add two classrooms. Any remaining levy funding will be used to replace exterior doors on the school and repair fencing.

Olney-Bissell Principal Trevor Dahlman said he was grateful for the community’s support.

“Our septic system is 40 years old,” Dahlman said while pointing to the growth in employees and the student population.

Dahlman said he understands the building’s roof, which is flat, had been previously tarred and was leaking this year. It will get a silicone coating.

The work is slated to begin in July with the goal of having it finished by the start of the next school year.

“We’re super excited,” Dahlman said.

WHITEFISH SCHOOL District voters handily approved a $231,766 general fund levy request with 64.13% of votes cast in favor of the measure in a 1,482 to 786 vote, according to unofficial results.

The owner of a home with an assessed value of $300,000 can anticipate annual taxes to increase by $10.23.

Cayuse Prairie School School District’s $300,000 general fund levy overwhelmingly failed with 588 voting against and 210 voting for the measure.

If the levy had passed, owners of homes with assessed values of $300,000 could have anticipated annual taxes to have increased by $161.64.

Following are preliminary results from school election night Tuesday. Results are unofficial until they are canvassed by each respective school board.

Kalispell

Trustee, elementary district — two three-year terms

Scott Warnell: 3,798

Jinnifer Mariman: 3,538

Shaun Pandina: 1,844

Jesse Shulz: 1,651

Patrick Claven: 842

Write-in: 122

Trustee, high school district — one three-year term

Krista Buls: 1,085

Will Hiatt: 804

Write-in: 33

Elementary district general fund levy

For: 3,762

Against: 3,331

High school district general fund levy

For: 6,027

Against: 8,849

Ballots mailed: 43,511

Ballots cast: 15,098

Olney-Bissell

Building reserve levy

For: 184

Against: 144

Ballots mailed: 919

Ballots cast: 328

Whitefish

Elementary general fund levy

For: 1,482

Against: 786

Trustee — Three three-year terms.

Jerrie Boksich 1,884

Katie Clarke 1,806

Shannon Hanson 1,588

Judy Hessellund 449

Registered voters: 12,222

Ballots cast: 2,311

Deer Park

Trustee election — Two three-year terms

Gary Anderson 144

Patrick Lundie 98

Michael Younger 75

Terri Kissane 56

Patrick Kissane 30

Registered voters: 969

Ballots cast: 208

Kila

Trustee election

Two three-year terms.

Amanda Chin 257

Nicholas Blanch 197

Chloe Christiana 135

Write-in 4

One one-year term

Kristina Stratton 119

Madison Crevier 106

Melissa Blanch 84

Write-in 1

Ballots mailed: 1,455

Ballots cast: 318

Cayuse Prairie

General fund levy

For: 210

Against: 588

Trustee election — Two three-year terms

Kyle Heinecke 433

Tyler Hash 389

Peter Kirmer 302

Ballots mailed: 2,008

Ballots cast: 809

Columbia Falls

Trustee election — Three openings for three-year terms

Keri Hill 1,813

Barbara Riley 1,516

Megan Upton 1,501

TJ Middlesworth 1,473

Jonathan Foust 942

Ballots mailed: 10,167

Ballots cast: 2,737

Swan River

Trustee election — Two openings for three-year terms

Matt Cottle 195

Brooke Johnston 151

Cassie Kleffner 143

Registered voters: 1,418

Ballots cast: 489

Reporter Hilary Matheson may be reached at 758-4431 or hmatheson@dailyinterlake.com