School Elections

A four-year-old girl helps her mother drop off her ballot at the Gallatin County Courthouse on Tuesday, May 4, 2021.

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Voters passed the Bozeman School District’s general fund levies for both the elementary and high school districts in this year’s school election.

District voters approved the elementary district general fund levy of $644,000 and a levy of $515,000 for the high school district, according to final unofficial election results from the Gallatin County Election Department released Tuesday night.

“We’re very excited and very appreciative of the Bozeman community and their support of the schools and public education,” said interim co-superintendent Casey Bertram.

The elementary district levy received nearly 62% of the vote and the high school levy passed with about 58%.

Bertram said the results for the levies were closer this year. He said the school board race generated a lot of public interest in the district’s election.

Mike Waterman, the district’s director of business services, said the results for both the levies and the trustee elections would be certified at the next board meeting on May 17.

“We’re thrilled and super fortunate to be living in such a place that values education,” Waterman said.

In the run-up to the election, the Bozeman School District held roughly 50 meetings to hear from residents and answer election and general questions.

For a home with a value of $100,000, the levies equal a tax increase of about $4.24 for the elementary district levy and $2.82 for the high school district levy, according to the district — a total of $7.06.

The district opted to seek the maximum allowable tax to offset not seeking levies the previous year.

Last year, the board decided to cancel its general fund levy because of the expected economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, the district sought and received an elementary district levy but opted not to ask for a high school levy.

The district has said a decrease in the elementary debt service payments for taxpayers would essentially offset the general fund levy increases.

Based on enrollment projections, the district expected to seek a bond for the ninth elementary school in 2021. It restructured its existing bond debt in 2017 to reduce payment amounts this year.

Due to the enrollment decreases at the elementary level during the pandemic, the district isn’t seeking a bond but those reductions in payments are still happening.

With the levy approved, residents’ taxes for the Bozeman School District will total about the same but the line items will shift due to the reduction in payments for the elementary debt service.

Funding at several other schools was also on the ballot. Belgrade School District’s building reserve levy, high school building reserve levy and general fund levies passed, with each garnering more than 60% of the vote.

Gallatin Gateway School District’s $7 million bond to renovate the 1914 building and update deferred maintenance did not pass, with about 55% voting against the bond.

Monforton’s general fund budget and levy also failed with about 51% voting against the bond. Anderson School District’s general fund levy passed with 51%.

Levies passed for LaMotte School, Amsterdam School and Big Sky School District. The Big Sky School District also had a transportation expansion pass.

Levies for the school districts in Willow Creek and Manhattan did not pass.

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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