MCPS Board of Trustees

Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS), which serves about 9,500 students, PK-12, across Missoula County, will ask voters to approve two levy requests in May.

We, members of the MCPS Board of Trustees, voted unanimously to place these levies on the ballot, because, after exploring other options, we concluded that these levies are necessary to keep our schools running effectively and securely.

The General Fund Levy is just what it sounds like — a request to fund the items we pay for out of our regular, ongoing operating budget.  About 90 percent of the expenses are staff wages and benefits.  Schools need people.  Our enrollment-based funding has declined, especially at the elementary level, and we have had to cut positions given the projected deficit of $3.6 million. In the meantime, costs for staffing, utilities, property and liability insurance, and other components of the budget have increased.

The General Fund budget is the primary budgeted fund for a district and is based on the number of students attending the district schools and any inflationary adjustment (capped at 3 percent). The amount that can be requested via locally voted levies is determined by a state funding formula. The addition of funds from successful levies provides 20 percent of the operating budget that the state allows the district based on current enrollment figures. With declining enrollment, passage of the levy in the elementary would mean a total budgetary increase of 1 percent.

The Safety Levy is new. A crucial task for families, for our community, and for MCPS is to keep our students safe. Last year, more than $3 million was used to pay critical staff (e.g., School Resource Officers, behavior interventionists, counselors), to defray the costs of infrastructure needs (e.g., physical security measures such as cameras, locks, and software), and to provide essential training for all personnel. These costs were charged to the General Fund budget and to federal ESSER funding. MCPS includes five high schools, three middle schools, nine elementary schools, one early childhood facility, one adult education center, an agricultural education center, sports facilities, and administration buildings that all require continual attention to keep our students safe.

We know that voters will have concerns and questions about any kind of tax increase given today's economy, but the decision to present these levies was considered and discussed over many months at the committee and full-board level.

Please take the time to consider these specific requests and vote YES to ensure that MCPS can meet the goal of continuous improvement of existing programs while also maintaining a safe environment for our students and staff.

Please talk with your neighbors, colleagues, and friends about these levies and your concerns. Please investigate how and what the levies would fund and how these decisions were made.

Please contact us if you have questions.

And thank you for the Missoula community’s strong commitment to our public schools.

The MCPS Board of Trustees consists of Chair Wilena Old Person, Elementary District Vice Chair Nancy Hobbins, High School District Vice Chair Arlene Walker-Andrews, Jeff Avgeris, Grace Decker, Koan Mercer, Jennifer Vogel, Ann Wake, Meg Whicher, Keegan Witt and Rob Woelich.