What is a “General Obligation Bond”?
A General Obligation Bond or ‘bond’ is the primary means for school districts in the state of Montana to raise funds for significant school facility improvements and/or construction. The approved bonds are sold to acquire the needed funds and then are paid back over a term—generally 20 years, although the term may vary.
How are bonds funded?
Property owners in the school district pay for these bonds via property taxes.
Property taxes are based on the assessed value, which is different than the appraised value, in most cases less. Here is a link to Flathead County's Assessor site that can help you determine the assessed value of your property. Enter either your name or your physical address to determine your property's assessed value.
Who was part of the planning process?
In an effort to make this a true community process, a 40 person committee made up of community, parents and staff was tasked with the goal of long term, fiscally responsible planning for our facilities needs. Starting in June of 2015, the committee met 11 times to discuss every possible option and to make a recommendation to the school board. The school board voted to move forward on items that were immediate needs in June 2016.
If we built a new elementary school today, it would be half-filled with existing students tomorrow.
High School Building Ages and Major Updates to Date
Agriculture Education Center: 1978, No major repairs to date
Flathead High School: 1910, 1935, 1950, 1960, 1969, 1974, 1987, 2007
Glacier High School: 2007, No repairs to date
Linderman: 1939, 1965, 1995
Elementary Buildings Ages and Major Updates to Date
Edgerton Elementary: 1987
Hedges: 1929, 1963, 1995
Peterson: 1955, 1979, 1995, 2013
Russell: 1940, 1954, 1987
What happens if these bond measures do not pass?
We must address the overcrowding in the elementary schools, which is currently at a tipping point and currently beyond building capacity at every elementary school.
If we do not pass this bond measure, we will have to purchase portable classrooms that are costly and provide only a short term solution to the consistent increasing enrollment in our district, particularly at the elementary schools.
Why is there a difference in costs between the high school district and the elementary school district?
Because the elementary school district serves only the Kalispell area, there are fewer homeowners and therefore the tax per household is higher. The high school district is countywide and has double the households to share the cost of the bond.
As the city and county continues to grow, property taxes will also decrease because more property owners will share the cost of this bond.
Do schools really affect my property value?
In 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported on a higher correlation between school performance and home values, which fluctuates somewhat in different states and school districts. According to the report, the increased availability of school data has led to more families searching for homes based on the quality of schools in the neighborhood than ever before. Today, a family in the market for a new home in a different location need only look as far as the Internet to find information on standardized test scores, completion rates and student-teacher ratios to rank schools in the area where they are headed.
According to the Wall Street Journal, when the state of Florida rolled out its new grading system for all the schools in the state, home values were directly impacted by the new system. In fact, homes in neighborhoods with A-rated schools increased their value by as much as $10,000 over a similar home in the vicinity of a B-rated school. As the grading system continued over a number of years, that gap has widened. Now, home values could vary by anywhere from $50,000 to $300,000 a home, based on the current rating of the school in that neighborhood.
Will this bond trigger 'redistricting'?
If a new south elementary school is built, the district will add a sixth school and redraw its enrollment area lines so that students can attend the school in their neighborhood. Because a sixth school will create relief from overcrowding at each school, the new enrollment areas will allow neighborhood kids to attend their neighborhood school yet also allow for freedom of choice. There are kids who have gone to a school out of their district for years, and we would keep that continuous as much as we possibly can. Redistricting is a open, transparent and public process.
What are the benefits of a yes vote?
This bond provides necessary upgrades and upkeep to our schools, i.e. it is better to maintain something for the long run in order to maximize your return on investment.
Relieve overcrowding at all elementaries--currently overcrowding in the elementary district stands at 219 students. This means that if we built a new school today, it would be half filled tomorrow.
Improved instructional quality--individualized learning and learning intervention takes place one on one or in small groups. Currently that instruction takes place in hallways. 'Flexible learning spaces' is the term we use for classrooms where traditional style/larger classrooms can co-exist with more individualized instruction. This ensures that we match instruction to students needs instead of just providing instruction.
Better community spaces or 'multi-use facilities'--All of our elementaries are taxed when assemblies or large community gatherings with parents and students occur. Additions at each elementary will mean better school community. The community at large will also benefit. So many organizations and agencies use our gym spaces and schools, from Rotary Basketball to Ninja Camps, over 100 groups use our facilities in a given year. Improving these spaces means the entire community will benefit.
Cost savings through improved efficiencies. The majority of the upgrades, particularly at Flathead High School, will result in more efficient heating, energy and plumbing systems and correlated cost savings. As an example, Kalispell Middle School replaced their boiler and saved over $115,000 in a single year. Because FHS has two outdated boilers as their main heating systems, they will realize similar savings on a yearly basis.
- Kids can attend schools in their neighborhood, instead of long bus rides. With the addition the south elementary school to accommodate increased enrollment, kids will stay in their neighborhood schools instead of being bussed due to overcrowding.