Kalispell Public Schools Announce Voting Change for Elementary School Levy

Due to email issue with Secretary of State’s office, district will now hold traditional vote instead of mail-in ballot

By Myers Reece
Voting at Flathead County Fairgrounds. Beacon file photo

Kalispell Public Schools will be conducting a traditional vote for the upcoming $1 million general elementary levy, rather than the previously announced mail-in ballot, due to an issue with an email submission that caused the district’s request with the Montana Secretary of State to miss the deadline.

The school district announced the voting change in a press release today.

“School officials were notified in mid-March their request had missed the deadline due to re-routing of an email account,” the district stated. “The district office and the Secretary of State’s office were not able to reach agreement on this issue in time to allow for mail-in voting.”

Registered absentee voters in Kalispell’s elementary district will still receive a mail-in ballot the week of April 16. Then beginning April 18 and running through May 7, all registered voters can take advantage of early voting at the school district offices at 233 First Avenue East in downtown Kalispell from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

On the day of the election, Tuesday, May 8, voters who didn’t vote early can cast their ballot at the Flathead County Fairgrounds’ Country Kitchen. That is the final polling opportunity for the levy.

“It’s unfortunate, but we can manage this change,” Gwyn Anderson, director of business services for the school district, said.

Ballots were originally due to be mailed to voters in mid-April and due back on May 8 for the $1 million elementary operational levy, which has been requested to help fund day-to-day operations within Kalispell’s elementary district.

A general operational levy is different than a bond, and funds from the bond approved by voters in October 2016 can only be used for infrastructure needs, not day-to-day operations such as textbooks, curriculum, personnel, and more.

The district faces a budget shortage due primarily to large state budget cuts and rising health-care costs, all of which is exacerbated by growing enrollment and the additional annual costs of operating the new Rankin Elementary School.

Before deciding to float a levy, the district first combed through more than 6,000 line items in the budget and identified $676,800 worth of cuts in the elementary district over a two-year period and $866,291 worth of cuts in the high school district. But the district still faced a shortfall, leading to the levy request.

“This is a great opportunity for our community to literally get out and vote,” Mark Flatau, superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools, said. “We haven’t had a traditional, walk-in vote for many years, so hopefully we’ll see some new voters showing up.”

For more information, call the district’s offices at (406) 751-3400.

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