Kalispell Voters Approve Elementary School Levy

$1 million levy will fund day-to-day expenses at district’s elementary schools; levies also pass in Bigfork, Whitefish and Columbia Falls

By Beacon Staff
Jude Fitzwater works on keyboarding with his classmates at Edgerton Elementary School on April 12. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Kalispell voters approved a $1 million elementary school general fund levy Tuesday night.

According to unofficial results, the levy received 3,121 votes (54 percent) in favor and 2,639 against (46 percent). The levy will provide funds to run day-to-day operations at the five existing elementary schools as well as the new Rankin Elementary School, due to open in the fall.

Operational expenses include textbooks, staff, curriculum and other basic needs. Such a levy differs from a bond, which provides funding for brick-and-mortar infrastructure.

The Kalispell public school district was facing a budget shortfall due to steeply reduced state funding and rising health-care costs. District officials enacted a series of budget cuts before proposing the $1 million elementary levy.

Property taxes will increase $50.38 annually on a $200,000 home.

School levies also passed in three other Flathead County districts on Tuesday.

In Bigfork, voters approved technology levies in both the elementary and high school districts. The $150,000 elementary school levy passed with 975 votes in favor and 665 against, while the $100,000 high school levy received 1,371 affirmative votes and 934 opposed. Both levies will fund technology improvements at Bigfork schools. Around 41 percent of mail ballots were returned.

Columbia Falls also passed a technology levy for its elementary district by a 1,113 to 803 margin. The 10-year levy approves approximately $485,000 to update and improve district technology. Voter turnout was approximately 20 percent.

Whitefish voters approved a $95,000 general fund levy for their elementary district, with 1,241 votes in favor and 795 against. Turnout was just under 20 percent.

West Valley Schools were attempting to pass a general fund levy as well, but voters there rejected it by a margin of 642 to 483 with voter turnout of just over 40 percent.

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