Breaking News

Laurel School District General Fund Mill Levy

By 
From The Superintendent’s Desk
Dr. Linda Filpula
Thursday, April 15, 2021

I’ve been asked recently why the school district is running a general fund mill levy when the federal government is providing money to schools across the country. Great Question!

First, let’s start with some background information to better understand the issue.

The federally-provided “ESSER” funds are one-time funds that must be spent on preventing, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. Districts have until September 30, 2023 to spend the funds. Allowable uses include addressing learning loss, preparing for reopening, and repairing and upgrading projects to improve air quality. Further, schools are required to spend 1% on summer enrichment and after school programs.

Prior federal dollars given to the District have been used to hire additional staff who provide classroom support, cleaning, meal preparation and delivery, and transportation. Student devices (1,450) and staff laptops (185) were purchased to facilitate online learning for all K-12 students along with digital platforms, programs, and resources. We will continue using federal dollars to support additional staff in these areas as well as additional staffing to address learning loss. Future spending of federal dollars will also focus on improving facilities, such as the air handling system at the high school which has been on the deferred maintenance list for years.

While these expenditures represent some good long term investments, the District still has ongoing, and increasing, costs to maintain our daily operations. By law, school districts are required to pass a budget that falls with state-determined minimum and maximum levels. These levels fluctuate each year with enrollment numbers and legislative changes in state funding. Based on the drop in this year’s enrollment, our budget authority has dropped $399,224 for the combined districts. This means that we need to fund all current, and increasing, expenditures (i.e. staffing, utilities, insurance) next year with less dollars.

The mill levy requests for this year are necessary to maintain adequate staffing, continued development of Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) opportunities, and planning for continued growth in our community. Because the District’s budget authority has dropped, it is necessary to request additional funding via the general fund levy. The estimated cost for the combined elementary and high school levies is $23.53 per year on a home valued at $100,000 or $1.88 per month. Additional information can be found at www.laurel.k12.mt.us on the Homepage under School News.

It has been challenging keeping schools open during a pandemic this year, but together we have weathered the storm, and we are excited to move forward. Thank you for your continued support of our students and staff!

Please remember to cast your ballot.

Upcoming Events

Monday, May 17, 2021
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel
Thursday, May 20, 2021
3rd Thursday, 9:30 a.m., Public Works Conference Room
Monday, May 24, 2021
Mondays, 1:30 p.m., 201 1/2 E Main St.
Monday, May 24, 2021
Second & fourth Monday at 11 a.m., Big Horn Resort, 1801 Majestic Lane, 281-8455
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Wednesdays, 7 p.m., 201 1/2 E. Main St., Laurel

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