Kalispell Chamber of Commerce Announces Unanimous Support of School Levy

School district is proposing $1 million elementary operational levy; final chance to vote is May 8 at fairgrounds

By Myers Reece

The Kalispell Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors unanimously voted to support a $1 million elementary operational levy proposed by the public school district.

Kalispell’s school district is requesting the levy to address a budget shortfall, primarily caused by reduced state funding and rising health-care costs, and to keep pace with growing enrollment and the added operational costs of launching a sixth elementary school, with Rankin Elementary under construction and set to open in the fall.

In a press release last week, the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce said its board of directors, representing “businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions of the Flathead Valley,” unanimously voted to support the levy based on a number of reasons, including the city’s growth and the importance of good schools in attracting businesses and people.

The chamber also noted that the Kalispell school district hasn’t approved an elementary general fund levy since 2012, whereas some districts routinely float general fund — or operational — levies on an annual basis.

Furthermore, the chamber said: “The $1.5 million of reserve funds the school district is expected to spend over the next year is not sustainable in the future.”

“Students represent our next generation of workforce and we want to ensure a competitive economy and continued quality education for the future of the Flathead Valley,” said Joe Unterreiner, the chamber’s president and CEO.

“This levy will help ensure all of our elementary schools and Kalispell Middle School will have top-notch school safety and security, curriculum and instruction, will bridge the gap between the reduced state funding and basic school operations.”

Registered absentee voters in the Kalispell elementary school district received their ballots in the mail in mid-April. All other registered voters can take advantage of early voting until May 7 by going to the school district offices at 233 First Ave. E.

The final opportunity to cast a ballot is on Tuesday, May 8, at Flathead County Fairgrounds’ Country Kitchen.

For more information, contact the district office at (406) 751-3100. For people interested in helping with campaign efforts, contact Sara Busse, levy community outreach coordinator for Kalispell Public Schools, at busses@sd5.k12.mt.us.

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