Final Count Confirms Support for Kalispell School Bonds

Voter turnout was 49 percent for the Oct. 8 school bond elections

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

A final tally of mail-in ballots confirmed support of the Kalispell school bonds that voters approved earlier this week.

Kalispell Public Schools released the final results from the Oct. 8 bond election, showing a 64 percent approval of the elementary school bond and a 58 percent approval of the high school bond. Voter turnout was 49 percent — 21,670 ballots were returned among 44,386 registered voters.

In the Kalispell elementary district, which encompasses city limits, 4,593 people approved the bond while 2,550 opposed it. Ten ballots were spoiled and discarded because they were improperly encased.

In the high school district, which includes Kalispell city limits and the outlying rural areas, 8,271 people supported the bond request and 6,065 were opposed.

The results will become official on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at the regularly scheduled school board meeting.

The elementary district bond — $25.28 million — will address persistent overcrowding by building a new elementary school on Airport Road along with funding repairs and updates at the city’s existing five elementary schools and middle school. The new elementary school will be the first built in Kalispell since 1987, when Edgerton was developed.

The high school bond — $28.76 million — will go toward renovating 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 will also fund maintenance needs at Glacier High School and rebuild parts of Legends Stadium.

For the 20-year bond, property taxes will increase an estimated $99 annually on a home in the elementary district valued at $170,000. For a similarly priced home in the high school district, property taxes will increase roughly $48 annually. For a home in both districts, taxes will rise roughly $147 annually.

In the elementary district, the new school will cost an estimated $15.7 million. The district has tentatively said the elementary school could break ground starting in April 2017 with a tentative completion date of August 2018. The renovations at the existing schools will cost another $10 million.

In the high school district, the spending will cover $18.19 million in upgrades and additions at Flathead High School, including $11.7 million for new construction; $4.64 million for renovations and upgrades at the Agricultural Education Center; $3.44 million for renovations at Linderman Education Center; $958,000 to rebuild the field at Legends Stadium; and $426,900 for deferred maintenance at Glacier High School.

A breakdown of results is below, provided by the Kalispell school district:

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