Great Falls community votes down high school technology levy, keeps three incumbents on the school board

Hannah Pate

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On May 3 the citizens of Great Falls voted against a technology levy and to keep incumbents Don Ryan, Chairman Jan Cahill, and Jason Brantley on the School Board.
If passed, the amended high school technology levy would have asked for $500,000 annually and increased the average taxpayers’ taxes by 39 cents per month.
The decision to hold an election on a levy was made at a school board meeting in March, since the district was faced with budget shortage as a result of the overall state budget shortcoming.
The district just received a $98 million bond, but these funds can only be used towards infrastructure purposes and not other expenditures such as salaries.
Recently reelected incumbent Jan Cahill has been serving as a school board trustee for twelve years.
Cahill says he is disappointed that the technology levy was not passed, but looks forward to the upcoming school year, and the promises that it holds.
“The construction of two new elementary schools, major remodeling of CMR high school, and making sure that the bond money is spent appropriately,” Cahill said.
In the upcoming school year construction will begin on two new elementary schools, to eventually replace Longfellow and Roosevelt Elementary schools.
CMR will also be receiving funding for infrastructure upgrades. Some of the improvements being made are a fire alarm system replacement, foundation repair and stabilization, elevator repairs, and a new CMR multipurpose space.
The school board planned for the worst, and reduced its expenses– primarily in the area of salaries by cutting multiple positions.
“We reduced expenditures by $1.8 million and that will carry us through the upcoming school year. This means reduction of approximately twenty-four positions, mostly at the high school level,” Cahill said.
All budget shortcomings come with consequences, and Cahill knows the GFPS budget is no exception to these.
“By not having the levy pass, we are still shortchanging the needs of our students as they prep for college, trade school, military, and the workforce,” Cahill said.
Cahill is still very grateful to the community for their support of the bond issue.
“I appreciate the support of the community for the $98 million bond issue,” Cahill said.

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