In less than a week, Missoula County residents will begin receiving ballots for the May 7 school elections.
The mail-in ballots, which are being sent out on April 17, may include a variety of bonds, levies and trustee nominations depending on a voter's district.
Missoula County Public Schools trustees approved two operations levies — one for the elementary district and one for the high school district — to appear on the May 7 ballot.
The elementary district has a general fund levy request for $200,519 to augment the existing levy, which funds general instruction and operations. Its passage would raise taxes by about $4.65 a year for a home with a $200,000 assessed property value.
The MCPS high school district also has an operations levy request to raise $118,987, for a tax increase of $1.55 for a home valued at $200,000.
However, restoration of state funding that was reduced in the 2017 special session would offset some of the costs to taxpayers. When factoring in the restored funds, a taxpayer living in the elementary and high school district would see an increase on the general fund portion of their tax bill of only $2.20 per a home assessed at $200,000.
Hatton Littman, the spokeswoman for MCPS, said the levies will not pay for any new projects. Rather, they'll allow the district to maintain its current budgets.
"In Montana, in order to maintain our max budget, we have to ask local taxpayers to approve these operations levies," Littman said.
About 20 percent of the district's budget comes from local taxpayers. If the levies don't pass, the district would need to find places to make reductions.
"MCPS is grateful for every single levy and bond that has been passed by taxpayers in the past, which has been 18 years running," Littman said. "There are other communities in Montana that have harder times passing these operations levies and Missoulians have consistently invested in our education system."
MCPS is also holding an election to fill three trustee positions representing the elementary and high school districts for a three-year term. Three of the current trustees — Michael Beers, Diane Lorenzen and Vicki McDonald — are at the end of their terms.
The unpaid position has a history of struggling to attract candidates, however, this year there are a total of five candidates running for the three positions.
Lorenzen and McDonald are running as incumbents, in addition to three other candidates: John Fletcher, Wilena Old Person and Megan Robson.
Additionally, trustees Ann Wake and Sharon Sterbis are running unopposed for seats as high school trustees.
Voters who live in other K-8 districts can expect their ballots to include other items.
Lolo voters are being asked to support a general fund levy request for $128,000 to support instructional programs. Its passage would mean approximately $21.45 in additional annual taxes for every $100,000 in home value.
Lolo Elementary School District voters are also being asked to choose a trustee to fill a three-year term.
Voters in the Target Range School District are being asked to support a 20-year Safety and Learning Bond of up to $8.47 million toward remodeling the school and improving the basic safety and security of the building’s entryway. It would also allow the school to update its lab and arts areas, add space for studying robotics and create a new cafeteria, band, orchestra and choir rooms, among other projects.
Bonner School has a general fund mill levy request on the ballot for $55,000. If voters in this school district approve the request, taxes will increase by about $15.63 a year per $100,000 in home value.
Clinton Elementary School District voters are being asked to select a trustee to fill a three-year term.