MISSOULA - The Target Range School District passed a general fund levy in the May 2, 2023, school election for the first time in 16 years.
The levy asked for $375,000 and passed with 58% for and 42% against.
The new funds are meant to encourage teacher retention and recruitment by increasing staff salaries.
Over the past few years, Target Range has had staffing issues.
The need for teacher incentives lead them to announce a consideration to move to a four-day school week in February of this year.
Due to extensive parent hesitation to the change, the Target Range School Board proposed the general fund levy as an alternative.
Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt admits she did not have high hopes that the levy would pass, but was happily surprised Wednesday morning.
"Somehow, the wonderful group of parents that we have, and other folks that supported us, got the message out in the right way at the right time, so our Target Range community really understood what our needs are. And we are so grateful," she says.
Target Range had a high voter percentage — almost 60% compared to 40% across Missoula County — but Davis Schmidt says this has usually been a bad sign for the school.
"Our former levy history indicates the higher the voter turnout, the more we fail," she says.
While this is Davis Schmidt's last year at Target Range, she says she is leaving the board with some recommendations.
First off, she says to start the school day five minutes earlier in order to build up enough time for a few professional development days for teachers.
Secondly, Davis Schmidt advises attempting smaller levies each coming school election year.
This would prevent the possibility of needing to, again, pass a large levy in the future.
“By doing so our taxpayers will have much smaller incremental increases, and hopefully that will be much more manageable for them," she says.