School board recognizes ‘We the People’ students, adopts general fund levy amounts

By 
Chris Mcconnell
Thursday, March 25, 2021

At Monday’s trustee meeting Laurel High School Civics teacher Lee Deming introduced members of the State Champion “We the People” team and had them demonstrate how the competition worked in a mock forum. “We have smart kids in this school,” Deming said, “It’s hard to imagine the work these kids put into this but I see it every day.”

Then the board approved four new high school courses–Scientific Inquiry, Agri Business Management, Academic Seminar and Pre–ETS Instruction– by a 6–1 vote on each one with the dissenting vote cast by trustee Mike Creeden.

After refusing to vote on any “high school only” items during several meetings earlier in the year, Creeden now votes no on all LHS actions because he claims by only living in the elementary district it is a conflict of interest. However, picking and choosing what to vote on is counter to Laurel School Board policy and Montana law. This is brought up repeatedly now, and when a lawyer with the Montana School Board Association previously said it was Montana Law for school board trustees to vote on every item, Creeden had replied, “The law is wrong.”

The board adopted the resolution to setting the general fund levy amounts of $591,428 (11.54 mills) for the elementary and $259,276 (5.15 mills) for the high school district in the May 4 mail–in–ballot school election.

In Superintendent Linda Filpula’s report she stated the district reduced mills in the permissive levies to offset taxpayer expense. “While we are asking voters to approve 16.69 mills, by decreasing the mills in other funds, the current actual mills we anticipate levying are 7.19.” This would equate to an increase of $9.41 on a home with a $100,000 taxable value and $19.41 on a $200,000 home. “These figures are based on the current taxable value of the district. As we anticipate the taxable value to increase when the new valuation is released in August, this will result in taxpayers paying even less than this amount.”

Albertsons Osco Pharmacy will be administering the first COVID–19 vaccinations for district staff at the high school Depot tomorrow. Filpula said 42 staff are signed up to receive the Moderna vaccine. The second dose will be given on April 23. For the past two weeks, all teachers have been able receive the vaccination through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program as well.

 

In other business:

• The board approved adding a 0.7 position of a Speech Language Pathologist to address student needs. The district has 84 students in need of Speech Language services. The average caseload for an SLP is 50 students and the 0.7 position fills the district need.

• Due to the loss of a key employee at United Way, the district will delay the launch of the CARES program until next fall to ensure the program gets off to a good start with planning and preparation. Filpula said they are still working on a Memorandum of Understand to bring to the board once all the details are finalized.

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Monday, April 19, 2021
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