STEVENSVIILE — Following a supportive survey last winter, Lone Rock School administrators and trustees had already been planning to ask voters for an operations levy, hoping to use the window with the expiration of the district's last bond issue to bring stability to the school's funding picture.
Then came the COVID-19 outbreak which prompted Gov. Steve Bullock to order all Montana public schools to close.
"With this closure, it creates a ripple effect with what we communicate. Part of that is, yes, we want people to know that the election is still going on,” Lone Rock School Superintendent Scott Stiegler said. “That we're still conducting it. That it's a mail-in. And we're still moving forward and asking our voters to consider this general fund levy."
The General Fund levy is "tax neutral” which means with the middle school bond expiring this summer, the levy would take over at the same rate, keeping property tax bills the same but generating about $100,000 per year. That's a key shot of funding to keep the historic school on a financial even keel…
"We've gotten our preliminary numbers from the state and we have begun to build our budgets for next year. Looking ahead to the numbers that we have we have more cuts in store for us that are mandated by the state. So, this levy is even more critical for us,” Stiegler said.
The district had been hoping to use a special open house this weekend, to explain levy details. But of course, that's not possible now so, they're going to go ahead and put the information online, in a virtual open house.
"It's going to be a slide show and video presentation that we'll put up on the school website,” Stiegler told MTN News.
Signs have begun popping up around the district to show support, and information boards will be placed at local stores and gas stops.
"The ballots will come out the week of April 15th. They'll come out through the mail. And they should look for those right away that week,” Stiegler said. “They have a few weeks to get those turned in. They're due back to the county on May 5th."
Again, all the voting is being done through the mail on this Lone Rock School levy. If approved, it would cost about $58 per year on a $200,000 home, the same amount homeowners have been paying for the expiring bond issue.