EAST HELENA — Thanks to a voter-approved mill levy and an increase in enrollment, school administrators in East Helena are expecting a budget increase for the coming school year, which means educators there will keep their jobs.

The East Helena School Board approved contract renewals for some 70 teachers, 10 administrators, and dozens of other employees at a well-attended board meeting Monday night at East Valley Middle School. More than two dozen educators listened as trustees and community members praised their work and continued employment.

Enrollment as of last week was 1,134 students, up from 1,109 at this time last year. That increase equates to about $75,000 for the general fund budget, said Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer. The enrollment increase and the $41,655 mill levy narrowly approved by voters last week brings next year’s budget estimation to $6.4 million. Whitmoyer said without those increases the district would have faced a budget shortfall.

“This budget allows us to bring these people back,” he said to the group of educators in the audience.

The unionized employees in East Helena are currently under contract negotiations and the budget can’t be finalized until the specifics are complete.

In other board business: School board incumbents Mark Diehl, Breck Scheet, and Ann Marie Thompson were sworn in to serve new three-year terms by State Superintendent Denise Juneau.

Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or alana.listoe@helenair.com

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