Latest election numbers show voter support for Helena School District levies

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Posted at 9:52 AM, May 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-03 11:55:18-04

HELENA — Helena Public Schools put three levies before voters for this year's school election the levies aim to reduce a general fund shortfall and provide more money for building and maintenance at elementary, middle, and high schools.

We will start with the Elementary General Fund Levy.

Helena Public Schools asked voters for an additional $750,000 for this levy, Bringing the 10-year total for the levy to $7.5 million.

This levy aims to directly impact the school's general fund shortfall and helps pay for things like teacher salaries and operational expenses like utilities.

The district says this levy will not close the funding gap entirely, and they have already announced other cost-saving measures like closing the Ray Bjork Learning Center, increasing class sizes, and eliminating some non-tenured positions.

If passed, it would raise taxes on a home valued at $200,000 by nearly $8 a year.

Results show at 11:00 p.m. this measure lead with 55% who voted for and 44% against.

“We’re incredibly grateful to our voters for continuing Helena’s long tradition of supporting our public schools,” said Superintendent Rex Weltz. “We deeply value our community’s trust and will use this funding wisely and efficiently to help educate this generation of students and those to follow.”

Turning to the two Building Reserve Levies.

There is an Elementary Building Reserve Levy and a High School Building Reserve Levy.

These levies aim to address deferred maintenance at facilities across the district.

HPS told MTN last month there is $36 million worth of high-priority maintenance and 40 million dollars worth of medium-priority maintenance.

The Elementary School Levy would collect $1,750,000 a year.

If passed this would raise taxes on a home valued at $200,000 by about $38 a year.

The high school levy would collect $750,000 a year for the next 10 years and if passed would raise taxes on a home valued at $200,000 by about $15 a year.

As of 11 p.m., the results show the elementary school levy Leading With 54% who voted for, and 45% against, and the high school levy leading With 55% who voted for, and 44% against.

“We’re especially thankful to see all three levies pass,” said Weltz. “The passage of the Building Reserve Levies ensures that we can maintain our schools for the next decade. These are truly community facilities, and we’ll continue to care for them responsibly on behalf of all who use them. The passage of these levies coincides with a Master Facilities Planning process that will guide the use of these funds for the long-term benefit of our community.”

The latest results show a general fund levy for East Helena K-12 schools failing 54% voting against the measure, 45% in favor.

With the results still unofficial, all results are considered preliminary until canvassing.