Why does the district need a general fund mill levy when the community just passed a bond in 2020?
Bonds are used to finance building projects, construction, or real estate purchases. Mill levies are for operational costs. Expenditures from each are limited to a specific scope and language. The recent bond passed for the TFS building project has specific language that limits the expenditure of funds to identified construction projects only. The mill levy is specifically for operational costs that have inevitably increased as a result of the additional 32,000 square feet of space. These operational costs are occurring due to related staffing, custodial, maintenance, insurance and utility expenses.
What programs are available to assist low-income or fixed income families with their taxes?
There are programs that offer property tax assistance for taxpayers who qualify. The Montana Department of Revenue provides an application for tax assistance that can reduce taxes up to 80%. The link to this information may be found at the Property Tax Assistance Program. The application form link is Property Tax Assistance Application
There is also a Montana Elderly Homeowner / Renter Credit that provides income tax credit based on a ratio of income and rent or taxes. The link for this information is Montana Elderly Tax Credit
What will the Mill Levy be used for?
The funds from this Mill Levy will be used for increased operational costs and to fund new staffing positions that are needed in order to educate students. Additional space was created by the building bond project and allows the district to respond to student requests for additional course offerings. With the addition of approximately 32,800 square feet, there continue to be increased operational costs including rising costs of utilities, technology, maintenance & custodial services, salaries and increased costs of health and property liability insurance.
Student course requests have taken place and our students are requesting the return of some classes that have been cut due to past lack of building space. Students are also requesting additional course offerings to be offered in-person. Also, due to enrollment growth, additional sections must be offered because of large class sizes.
○ Cut past courses now considered to offer: Human Form and Function (Dual Credit), Sociology, Industrial Technology, Wildlife and Recreation.
○ New course considerations: Criminology, Law and Justice, Integrated Math II, Philosophy and Ethics, Science of Language, Fundamentals of Web Design, Hospitality and Tourism, Advanced Foods, Veterinary Science, etc.
○ Current Courses needing more sections: Chemistry, Culinary Arts, Advanced Composition, Professional Communications, Physics, Art, Drawing, Pottery
In addition to additional course offerings, Three Forks School District stands behind the philosophy that smaller class sizes in the elementary school leads to a more productive and enjoyable classroom experience. Through continued support from the voting public, TFS can continue to keep on pace with the increased enrollment, adding additional sections as needed. These smaller class sizes also allow for staff to provide quality differentiated instruction enabling the District to meet the needs of all learners.
How much can the district ask for?
Every district in Montana is given a maximum budget that can be levied locally. The TFS District is not requesting the maximum allowable budget. After deliberation and discussion, the TFS Board of Education unanimously approved a $385,350 Elementary Mill Levy and a $288,650 High School Mill Levy with an overall total of $674,000, which is significantly less than the maximum allowable amount of $828,857 for the 2023-24 school year. The TFS District is significantly below the maximum budget allowed as compared to surrounding districts.
How has the district used additional federal & state funding related to COVID Relief?
The district has had ESSER Funds (federal funding related to COVID) that end this upcoming school year. These funds have specific restrictions that have allowed the district to provide the following:
■ New playground structure
■ Replacement windows for improved ventilation
■ Counseling and Behavior Support staff
■ Cleaning supplies & equipment
■ Increase in cleaning / custodial costs
■ Technology needs
● Clear Touch Boards
● Networking equipment
■ Summer Programming
■ Friday Programming
Who determines if there is a mill levy?
The TFS Administration presented three options and the Board approved a mill levy for both the elementary and for the high school. Registered voters will choose whether to approve or deny this recommendation when it appears on the May ballot.
How will this affect my taxes?
Based on the 2022 tax base of assessed value, this levy will increase property taxes in the following ways: approximately $64.65 a year for a $100,000 home, $129.30 a year for a $200,000 home and $193.95 a year for a $300,000 home. This amounts to $5.39, $10.78 and $16.16 per month, respectively. Tax base values for 2023 will be made available in August 2023. As the tax base increases with time, the burden on individual taxpayers is reduced. The assessed valuation is NOT what you would expect as a resale value. You may look up your assessed market valuation at the following link: https://svc.mt.gov/dor/property/prc
How do I know if our tax dollars are being managed wisely?
The TFS presents all claims in public forums each month. Claims are reviewed and approved by administration and by the Board of Trustees. Additionally, an independent audit is performed each year and the findings are shared in a public meeting.
What is the current starting salary of a beginning teacher at Three Forks Schools?
The beginning salary is currently $36,069