Attention Kalispell voters: You have an opportunity this week to give much needed support to our elementary and high schools. You should have received an official Kalispell Public Schools district ballot in your mailbox, and this is your opportunity to put your hard-earned dollars to work for our children and educators. The Kalispell elementary and high school districts are asking voters to support four levies to fund critical areas of safety and technology. For less than what it costs to buy a ski pass, our community can fund vital and essential suicide prevention and improve security in our schools.
As reported in this newspaper and media outlets across the state, Montana is facing a crisis in its schools. Statewide, there are shortages of educators, and compounding this is the necessary funding needed to adequately supply technologies and instruction to ensure that our students receive even the most basic educational opportunities. Montana students face a myriad of issues, including mental health resources and they deserve an opportunity to have access to qualified staff. Supporting all four levies on the ballot will help give our children the opportunities they need.
It’s been nearly 20 years since a high school levy was passed, and the lack of support is an embarrassing travesty. Not only is the Flathead Valley increasing in population at a dramatic rate, but the needs of our students are also changing. The two measures the high school district is asking voters to approve are in the critical areas of security and technology. Last spring, voters rejected the high school’s ballot proposals. We’re long overdue, so it’s time to vote yes for the high school district. Whether you’ve recently moved here or the valley is your hometown, part of why we love living here so much is how incredible our school system is. Our public schools need us now more than ever, so if you’re part of the Wolfpack or a Brave, this is your chance to endorse our incredible schools.
Unfortunately, the Montana GOP hasn’t done the school system any favors with its outrageous property tax hikes, and I fear that the modest levies on this fall’s special election ballot will sour voters. It’s a difficult ask, and I know that deep down, this community wants to see its students thrive. Schools are the backbone of our community, and even if you don’t have children or perhaps your kids have graduated, it makes sense to approve these measures. No one likes paying taxes and it’s difficult to stomach another tax increase after the property tax blow, but the investment in our public school system is one that benefits the entire community. We must consider the opportunities that our tax dollars will offer our students, even if the state’s supermajority in Helena has made it extremely difficult to fund even the most basic educational measures.
Safe and secure schools are a baseline ask, so let’s rally behind our students and educators and vote yes. Be sure to return your ballot by Tuesday, Oct. 3. With your approval, we can help stem the multiple problems our schools face and kick off the school year with a great start.
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