Kalispell Chamber Board Supports Bond Requests for New School, Upgrades

School district to seek $54 million for school upgrades in Oct. 4 ballot election

By Dillon Tabish
School District 5 offices in downtown Kalispell. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is endorsing a pair of bond requests for roughly $54.76 million to build a new elementary facility and renovate the city’s existing schools.

The board, encompassing 21 voting directors, agreed on its show of support on Aug. 1, citing the educational and community-wide benefits of the two bonds, which will be floated to voters this fall.

“Kalispell Public Schools provide diverse educational opportunities for all students that engages and challenges them, prepares them to be college and career ready, and results in responsible citizens for our community, state and nation,” the board’s resolution stated.

It added, “Good schools are one of the primary considerations in business and personal relocations to Kalispell and the Flathead Valley.”

Kalispell Public Schools is seeking two bonds this fall to address overcrowding and deferred maintenance. The elementary district was over capacity by 219 students last year.

The mail-in ballot election is slated for Oct. 4. Ballots go out in September.

Voters in the Kalispell elementary district, which spans city limits and the surrounding area, will decide whether to approve a roughly $26 million bond to build a new kindergarten-through-fifth grade school on the south end of town and remodel the existing elementary sites and middle school.

For the 20-year bond, property taxes would increase an estimated $99 annually on a home in the district valued at $170,000, according to school officials.

Residents in the elementary district will also vote on a separate bond request with residents in the larger high school district, which includes Kalispell and 13 partner districts in the outlying valley. The request is for a $28.76 million bond that would go toward remodeling sections of Flathead High School that are over 100 years old as well as deferred maintenance, along with an expansion of the Agricultural Education Center and upgrades at Linderman Education Center. The bond would also fund maintenance needs at Glacier High School, rebuild the main field at Legends Stadium and expand parking opportunities near Flathead.

For the high school bond, property taxes would increase roughly $48 annually for a home valued at $170,000, according to school officials.

If both bonds were approved, property taxes would increase roughly $147 annually for a $170,000 home in both the elementary and high school district.

“Recent Smarter Balanced Assessment data demonstrates that students at Kalispell Public Schools achieve above the state averages and in many cases are some of the highest among AA districts and it is important to continue to advance student performance,” the chamber board resolution stated.

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