Test Scores, Bozeman High file

Students leave Bozeman High School for lunch in this Chronicle file photo.

Bozeman’s public schools hope to get an additional $1 million next school year in state and local tax money to cope with an expected jump in student enrollment.

School Board trustees will vote Monday night to apply to the state for the additional money based on an “anticipated unusual enrollment increase.”

The board meets at 5:45 p.m., in the board room at Willson School, 404 W. Main St.

In Bozeman’s high schools, enrollment in expected to grow next school year by 122 students to 2,382 students. If approved, the additional money would total $1.07 million.

In Bozeman’s elementary and middle schools, enrollment is anticipated to increase by 62 students to 4,913. The additional money would total $26,713.

State law now allows school districts to apply for additional money if enrollment is expected to increase by either 4% or 40 students in a school year.

Before that law passed in 2013, school districts had to wait a year following an enrollment jump to receive any additional money based on the higher headcount, which meant they got no additional funds to educate all the kids already in school.

If the state approves both applications, the Bozeman School District would receive $1.09 million. Most of that would come from more than $600,000 in state funds.

If the state agrees Bozeman qualifies for the unusual enrollment increase, the school board could also impose an additional $256,371 in local property taxes, without approval by voters. And it could increase the amount of local taxes determined by voters by $217,500.

Bozeman schools have used this “unusual” source of extra money before, including last year. This October’s enrollment hit a record of 7,111 students — but it fell 40 students short of administrators’ projections.

That meant Bozeman schools didn’t qualify for the unusual enrollment funding. So this year its state revenues will be reduced to match the actual enrollment count and it has to spend less on its general fund. Next school year local property taxes also will have to be reduced.

While the 2013 law was written to help school district with “unusual” enrollment increases, Bozeman’s increase have become almost routine. Enrollment has increased every year since 2003.

Bozeman’s enrollment projections are usually pretty close and this fall’s headcount came within half of 1% of administrators’ predictions.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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