LAUREL, Mont. - Property owners in Laurel are being asked to shell out a little bit more cash through a mill levy to increase the general fund for the school district.
The Laurel Public School District is asking for a voted increase to their general fund of 16.69 mills for their elementary and high school districts.
If the mill levy is approved property owners would see an increase of $45.06 a year for a home valued at $200,000. Though, Superintendent Linda Filpula says they plan to reduce the mills in their non-voted levies in the Transportation, Bus Depreciation, Tuition, Adult Education and Building Reserve.
The district anticipates levying only 7.19 mills, which would mean property owners would see an increase of $19.41 cents a year for a home valued at $200,000.
“We have decreased mills to help offset the increase in the general fund; It’s kind of like a balancing act," Filpula said.
The district says they need additional funds because student enrollment dropped by 114 students.
“Which is roughly 645 thousand dollars of funding we don’t get. But you still have all the same expenses. So even if you have less kids riding the bus, you still have to pay the bus driver,” she said.
The school district does anticipate an increase of student enrollment for the 2021-22 school year, and plan to use a portion of the funds to maintain adequate staffing and prepare for next year's growth.
“We’re also looking at increasing our career and technical ed. opportunities. Specifically in the areas of health science and the trade industries. We’re also looking into education to create pathways in our high schools for those. In the elementary we’re looking at adding in more STEM opportunities, specifically in the areas of coding and computer science," Filpula said.
Filpula also says, with the 23 acres the district purchased in 2019, they’re looking to build a third through fifth grade elementary school to accommodate the growth in Laurel. She says the community is growing and they want to be prepared for it.
“It’s really about investing in our school district and our kids and planning for the future,” she said.
The ballots for the mill levy were mailed out to residents Wednesday, April 14, and are due by 8 p.m. on May 4.