Belgrade Schools create committee for mill levy education


Belgrade Schools create committee for mill levy education

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Belgrade School District is set to ask voters for another mill levy this year. But after residents failed to pass two levies last year, the district has formed a committee to better inform voters and get them to the polls.

Here's some background on the two failed levies last year: The Belgrade School District asked for just under $545,000 for the elementary school district and just over $96,000 for the high school district. That money would have gone toward hiring more staff and partial funding for a school resource officer.

When voters failed to pass two Belgrade School levies last year, Superintendent Candy Lubansky wanted to know why. She tells us when residents weighed in they told her they were on a fixed income or they were unclear about ballot language.

"For one thing, it says market of their home to calculate their taxes but it really is taxable market value, which tends to be different than what you actually sell your house for," explains Lubansky.

But what concerned Lubansky most was the number of people who didn't vote at all.

"We sent out 11,000 mail-in ballots, because we did a mail ballot and only 3,300 voted," Lubansky says.

It's one of the reasons why the district formed a committee to educate and communicate with the community.

"This is the nature of an operational levy versus a bond. These are the things we're going for, this is how much it would cost you and these are the efforts that we're making to pass that levy," says Lubansky.

The committee is made up of parents, board members, staff and community members. The team met Thursday night to discuss barriers -- like getting meaningful, understandable information to busy people -- opportunities and what's next.

She tells us one way they aim to address that barrier is by giving voters general information with a matrix barcode that links to more in-depth information.

"The QR code will take people to that site to get the more in-depth information they want instead of trying to inundate them with all of that information up front," Lubansky says.

For those who don't use electronics, the group has discussed distributing a door knob flyer with that information.

While Lubansky tells us her main goal is to get people to the polls, she hopes the committee will encourage them to vote in favor of the levies.

"Staff, board members can't say 'vote yes,' but this committee of parents and community members can say 'vote yes,'" Lubansky explains.

Lubansky says they haven't yet determined how much money they'll ask for in this year's levy.

If you'd like to participate in committee meetings, keep an eye on the Belgrade School District's website for upcoming meetings.

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