Helena Public Schools officials have not yet decided whether they will ask voters for an additional property tax levy this election cycle, but they aren't ruling out the possibility just yet.
During a meeting this week, the board of trustees passed a resolution calling for an election this spring. The resolution calls for the election of three trustees and maintains the option to put a new mill levy to a vote.
Superintendent Tyler Ream said it is common for school districts to call for this voted levy in their election resolutions even if they don't end up using it. This is typically because districts don't have a clear picture of next year's budget in February, when they need to call for an election. The superintendent said the district will have a better idea of the 2019-20 budget next month.
Board Chair Sarah Sullivan said the district would "hedge our bets" by putting this in the resolution.
"If we don't call for it and we've not secured resources then we would be in trouble," Ream said.
Ream pointed out that the district has worked hard putting together a multi-year flexible budget, which has contingency plans regarding various funding sources and legislation. He believes it is important to have the district prepared for possible sudden increases or decreases in funding.
Ream said he is grateful that voters approved bonds to construct three new elementary schools and improve the others, and he recognizes that the public is a finite resource. Thus, he doesn't want to put any unnecessary burden on the taxpayers.
The three school board seats up for election are currently held by Sanjay Talwani, Tyler Emmert and Libby Goldes.
The district will finalize ballots by April 5. Voting for the mail-in ballot election ends at 8 p.m. on May 7.