The public education mill levy system is seemingly designed to challenge a community to either invest in its children or not. Doesn’t voting “yes” demonstrate the “personal responsibility” it seems so many Americans are craving?
What are the options? Cut sports/activities? In a prominent Columbus, Ohio, suburb, elimination of sports resulted in families, rich and poor, moving out en masse. Businesses closed, the housing market collapsed - the town is now failing. Cut teachers? This means packed classrooms, loss of accreditation (and federal dollars), loss of entry-level positions for Montana grads and the inability to compete for the brightest educators. Cluster Schools? This means firing teachers, closing schools and then busing kids every two years to a new school. This saves the district money, but not you. Transportation for schools is funded by Permissive Levies, legally allowing the state to tax you anyway. For the average homeowner, wouldn’t $5 a month be worth the satisfaction of knowing you were part of the elected, not forced, solution?
Perceptions of poor budgeting, residual anger from strikes, school closures, personal anecdotes about undesirable teachers, and frustration with administration exist nationwide. But I choose not to punish Billings’ kids today for the real or perceived mistakes of a few.
We have a new superintendent and a growing, business-minded board. Legions of community members have volunteered thousands of hours over the years on budgeting, staffing, planning and curriculum committees - they care. They are showing personal responsibility for public education.
You can too by VOTING YES.