Montana Schools Seek More Money

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – A longshot bid to get schools far more money than requested by the governor is hitting the Senate.

Education groups say they want about $76 million a year to increase the per-teacher stipend and the basic entitlement the school districts get.

Supporters told a Senate committee on Wednesday the money is needed to properly fund schools and pay teachers. Education groups have bristled at the funding level in Gov. Brian Schweitzer’s budget.

But the bills face a tough sell to a Legislature promising to put forth an austere budget in the face of recession.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau is urging lawmakers to disregard a warning from the governor and give the schools the increases. She says the money could bring teacher pay up to the national average.

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