Bozeman schools will get an early Christmas gift of $244,000 from the state of Montana this year.

Thanks to the 2013 Legislature, the Bozeman School District will receive more than a quarter million dollars to help educate more than 200 additional students.

Bozeman School Board trustees voted unanimously last week to add $140,326 to the $14.1 million high school budget and add $104,061 to the $26.6 million elementary school budget. The votes came during a special board meeting at Emily Dickinson School.

Bozeman schools qualified for the money because student enrollment in the high school jumped by 100 students to 1,963 this fall.

The state used to require enrollment to increase by 6 percent to qualify for extra money in the same year that the additional students show up.

The Legislature this year passed the school funding reform bill, Senate Bill 175, which was “a very positive thing,” said Steve Johnson, deputy superintendent for operations.

The new law made many changes, including lowering the threshold for qualifying for additional money to 40 students. Because of that change, the high school will receive additional funding for 60 of its new 100 students.

Under the old law, Bozeman High would have to have seen enrollment bump up by more than 120 students to qualify for any additional dollars, explained Mike Waterman, school district business services director.

In the Bozeman elementary district, enrollment jumped this year by 165 to 4,223 students.

School budgets normally are based on how many students a district had in the previous school year. So when districts had a surge in enrollment, they didn’t receive any additional money to hire teachers or accommodate the new students until a year had passed.

In early November, the Bozeman School Board petitioned the state Office of Public Instruction to approve the budget increases. OPI approved both petitions. Waterman said it was important to approve the budget changes before December.

The state funds the additional students at 44.7 percent of the normal per-student “average number belonging” rate, officials said.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.


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