Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Helena Public Schools cuts 52 teachers after levies fail

Lockers in an empty school hallway.

Helena Public Schools trustees voted to lay off 52 non-tenured teachers during their May 14 meeting.

Before the board voted on the cuts, district superintendent Rex Weltz acknowledged the failure of five school levies during the recent school elections.

“We wanted to keep ourselves whole. We like what we offer, we want to continue to do what we do, and we want to do it where we’ve been doing it,” Weltz said. “But, that’s not what our community said at this time, and so, it’s going to look different.”

Helena Public Schools spokesperson Karen Ogden told MTPR the non-renewals are a normal part of the budgeting process. They give the district budget flexibility ahead of the coming school year. However, Ogden says the 52 non-renewals are an increase from recent years.

Ogden says the district hopes to re-hire as many of those teachers as the budget will allow.

At the Helena school board meeting, several people giving public comment called on the state Legislature to revise its funding formula for public schools.

The success rate for school funding requests in levies this year was the lowest in decades, according to school administrators.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information