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Posted: Friday, February 18, 2011 2:00 am | Updated: 12:23 pm, Tue Apr 22, 2014.

How do you plug a budget hole that is estimated to be at least a half-million dollars?

Kalispell Public Schools is asking everyone to weigh in on possible ways to address the school district’s financial pinch.

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          Welcome to the discussion.


          • InMyOpinion posted at 11:30 am on Fri, Mar 4, 2011.

            InMyOpinion Posts: 1

            I see a lot of folks here in the valley sharing how the hard times have affect their life styles and I agree with them all on this. Real estate prices are at an all time low, job availability is far and in between and we all have had to curve our spending habits to fit our incomes.

            Through all the articles and comments being made in regards to the High School building reserve levy and the Kalispell schools not managing the funds of the tax payers, I want to put my 2 cents worth out there.

            Some folks may not know this, but the High School Building Reserve Levy dollars cannot by law be used for salaries, wages, benefits, books or supplies of the school staff or students. This money, every penny by law must be spent on the upkeep, repairs and improvements of the two schools. If they do not have this reserve money to work with then the cost to do these things will need to be taken from the general fund or not done at all. A reduction in the general fund means a reduction in other areas that will eventually be felt by the kids in the quality of education they get and the programs being offered to them.

            There seems to be a lot of folks as well asking why the administrators and schools staff don't feel the pinch of the down fall in the economy like the rest of us. The private sector has made adjustments to staff and wages due to a reduction in demand. It is only good business to reduce operating cost to continue to make money.

            It is my understanding through conversations and a review of the minutes of the schools board meetings that the staff of the schools in most parts has felt this as well. Over the past few years the majority of the staff has seen a 2% to 3% rise in pay. Along with this, they have also seen and increase in health care benefits of 25% to 35% an increase in union dues as well as all the other increase we as tax payers see. The majority of these increases have been borne by the staff through payroll reduction or choosing a lesser health package to keep whole. The board of directors has voted did not to pick up these increase over the years for the employees. And the increase in wages was below the national average.

            It was shared with me as part of the changes in health care benefits there has been a reduction in the services being provided to the employee to a point that they are now paying for a majority of the services they receive such as medication, doctor’s visits and have seen an increase in their deductable or co-pays.

            The schools have not seen a reduction in demand. The kids still go to school. In fact I would not be surprised if the overall enrollment actually increased due to folks moving into town and folks pulling their kids from private pay schools to help reduce their costs. The buildings need lights, heat and all the necessary utilities to operate for these kids.

            As a community member, voter and a parent of a child that attends these schools. Maybe I or we need to consider home schooling them to help reduce this demand on the facilities. Maybe we need to consider having four day weeks or eliminating the Kindergarten and head start classes.

            Over the course of the last several months I have seen a lot of these schools (high schools and junior high mostly) that seem to have a lot of evening or weekend events that are sponsored by the school, students community and/or other organizations. As a way to help reduce the overall operating cost of the aged building maybe the schools need to reduce their operating hours and availability in the same fashion as the folks are doing in the private sector. In reducing these services, days of operation or by following a strict schedule of Monday through Friday 7:00 am until 4:00 pm it may allow the schools to be able to operate without the assistance of tax payers via a building reserve levy.

            The schools, board of directors, support staff and us as tax payers have a challenge ahead of us when it comes to supporting our schools and our kids. In the end, when it all shacks out. The ones that will benefit or suffer from our decisions will be our kids and their futures as well as ours.

            Before make a hasty decision or blurting out comments, make sure that you are well informed of what is all involved. Take the time to go to a board meeting or two, visit with folks that work in our schools, spend some time reading through the schools board meeting minutes. Make sure you have the facts or a well informed understanding of what is truly going on before you act.

            For me, I am voting for the High School Building reserve levy to insure the up keep of our high schools and to provide the best possible place of education for my kids in today’s work economy. Because it will be the world they will be competing in and not just the Flathead Valley or Montana. For me, the 50 or 60 dollars a year is nothing compared to what my family and I will more than likely spend in a year on diners out, pizza, movies, video rentals, the week or weekend hunting or fishing trip or the occasional cold six packs on the weekend.

          • Guitarslinger posted at 8:21 pm on Sun, Feb 20, 2011.

            Guitarslinger Posts: 7

            It boggles my mind when people think their blues are the only ones. My wife was riffed from her teaching job after 8 years, and we're struggling to stay afloat. I'm grateful to still have mine, or we'd lose our house. Do you REALLY think that others can't sing that same ol' song? Things are tough ALL over.

            Feel better now?

          • MrMark posted at 12:24 am on Sun, Feb 20, 2011.

            MrMark Posts: 359

            Click on the link and let Shottle know how you feel Kalispell!

          • Claus posted at 10:17 am on Sat, Feb 19, 2011.

            Claus Posts: 394

            I will consider voting more money more the schools just as soon as my pay is restored to pre-recession levels, and I start getting regular pay increases. I would be shocked —shocked I tell you— to learn that our public sector employees have had no pay cuts in these last 2 1/2 years! Many taxpayers have no jobs or a much reduced income. How is it that the public sector employees expect to take no share in the recession blues?