Libby School Officials Push for Building Levy

Voters have not approved a school levy since 2002

By Justin Franz

School officials in Libby are hoping voters will pass a levy for the first time in 14 years to address the district’s building maintenance needs.

Superintendent Craig Barringer said the district is asking voters for a levy that would raise $4.1 million over 5 years. The money raised from the levy will help fund repairs to the school district’s six buildings, including the elementary, middle and high school and the alternative school.

“We’re not looking to upgrade the facilities, we’re looking to maintain them. We have leaky roofs and sidewalks that are falling apart,” Barringer said. “If we wait five years to do these things we’ll be in a world of hurt.”

Barringer said school officials realize that passing the levy will be an uphill battle. The last time a levy passed was in 2002. More recently, voters turned down levy proposals in 2011 and 2013 by wide margins. The most recent levy was to help cover a $700,000 budget shortfall during the 2013 and 2014 academic year. The levy’s failure resulted in deep cuts for the district.

If passed during the school election on May 3, the levy would go toward replacing the roofs of the town’s three active schools, repairing floors, sidewalks and parking lots. Barringer also said the elementary school’s ventilation and heating system needs work, as it is more than 50 years old.

“We’re not trying to build the Taj Mahal, we just want these buildings to last another 20 years,” he said. “Right now we’ve got pot holes that will eat you up.”

The money will also go toward replacing lighting in all of the schools, something Barringer said will result in savings in the long-term.

Barringer estimates that the levy would cost $92 annually for the owners of a home valued at $100,000 and $180 annually for owners of homes valued at $200,000. That comes out to being between $7 and $15 every month.

“This levy is targeted at our buildings. It doesn’t go to anyone’s salary. This is an investment into our schools if we want them to be here 20 years from now and frankly, our kids deserve to walk into buildings that are ready for them,” Barringer said.

The Libby School District is hosting a community meeting about the levy on March 1 at 6 p.m. at the K.W. Maki Theater at the Central School.

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