HAMILTON – Ravalli County commissioners are giving Bitterroot voters a chance to approve a levy to fully fund a long-time literacy program that’s given hundreds of adults a chance at a better life over the past 30 years.
Literacy Bitterroot has been a leader in adult literacy efforts in Montana over the years, whether its helping local residents get their High School Equivalency Diplomas, or beef up their math and reading skills so they can be certified or apply for job upgrades.
But last year, the program hit rough times after the Office of Public Instruction diverted funding to a "regional" program based out of Missoula. Director Dixie Stark and her supporters told county commissioners this morning that’s put the squeeze on the classes, and likely means the program will have to shut down when interim funding runs out.
Instead, Stark asked commissioners to approve a November ballot measure asking voters to approve a 1.5 mil levy hike, which would provide $120,000 per year. She says that’s a worthwhile investment.
"We know that the students that gain skills and move up the career ladder and pay more taxes will fund this program," Stark said. "It’s a positive funding base going forward."
Commissioners agreed, clearing the way for the literacy levy to be on the General election ballot. But they also warned Stark and her supporters they’ll have a lot of work to do to convince voters in a short period of time.