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Missoulians To Vote On Two Major School Bonds In November

Paxson Elementary School in Missoula.
Missoula County Public Schools

Missoula voters are being asked to approve two major school bond issues. They haven’t said yes to school debt of this magnitude since 1952.

Supporters of the bond questions that will appear on November's ballot say it’s time to update badly deteriorating local public schools.Susan Hay Patrick chairs a committee of residents supporting both measures. One is an $88 million bond for K-8 schools. The other, $70 million for high schools.

Patrick's committee launched its campaign in support of the bonds today. They say local school buildings are crumbling and classroom technology is out of date.

She says a vote for these measures is a vote for the future.

"I think that there is nothing more important than educating our kids. We have such an outstanding reputation as a school district, but what we don't have are the facilities or technology that supports 21st-century learning."

Missoulian Jim Conkle says he supports Missoula's public schools and is not an anti-tax crusader. But he says Missoulians are now inundated with bond issue proposals. He says the time has come for voters to prioritize.

"Money's not unlimited. Because I'm a supporter of Missoula County Schools, I'm going to analyze this just to make sure that there's not too much gravy in it, but this is the one bond that I'll be supporting at the expense of all the others because this is my priority."

The $88 million elementary bond would cost owners of a $200,000 home roughly $140 dollars annually for 20 years.

For a home valued at the same amount, the high school levy would annually cost about $72 for the next 20 years.

About one-third of high school district residents also live within the elementary district.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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