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Following the resignation of trustee Lisa Triepke in July, the Missoula County Public Schools Board of Trustees interviewed two candidates at a meeting on Thursday and made a decision on a replacement.

After hearing from both Korbin Bragstad, who had run for the seat in May's school election, and Shawn Skinner, an engineer who lives in the Target Range area, the board voted to have Bragstad fill the high school seat, which represents the Target Range and Bonner areas.

Board members cited the 19-year-old from Bonner's support of the $158 million in school bonds that are on the ballot this fall and said he would provide a younger perspective on the board.

“I truly feel like this is a great opportunity for me to give back to this community,” Bragstad said.

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Superintendent Mark Thane gave an update on the school district's effort to choose a location for a new building for Cold Springs Elementary School, which would be constructed if the $88 million elementary bond passes this fall. He said MCPS is looking at four potential locations, including rebuilding at the current site or another MCPS-owned property near Marilyn Park in the Linda Vista neighborhood, as well as two other unspecified sites.

MCPS will hold a public meeting at Cold Springs on Monday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. to give more information about the locations, as well as work with the public to determine the important factors for a school building site so the district can design criteria to rank them.

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Thane said a parcel of land on Joy Drive in the Linda Vista neighborhood, which the school district had picked following a site assessment in July before deciding to reevaluate locations, is no longer in consideration as a site for Cold Springs.

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At Thursday's meeting, the board also approved the budgets for the next fiscal year, with the elementary budget set at $48.8 million, a $2.4 million increase, and the secondary budget at $39.1 million, an $855,000 increase. The budgets include a 2 percent raise for teachers and staff at both districts.

The tax value of the elementary district increased around $1.7 million to about $108 million this year, said Pat McHugh, executive director of business and operation. The high school valuation went up about $3.9 million to $187 million.

"To compare, in Billings, the elementary went up $19 million, the high school was up $28 million," McHugh said.

He said the school decided not to ask voters for a funding mill levy this year. Part of changes to how the budgets affect property taxes are based on a new way taxable valuation is calculated in Montana. Factoring in the change in the tax valuation process, property owners of a $200,000 home in the elementary district should see a roughly $22.50 increase in taxes for the year, while those in the high school district will be paying about $12 more.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.