Voters on Tuesday approved $14 million in federal bonds for Billings School District 2 facility upgrades in an election that saw strong returns.
With all precincts reporting, the two federal bonds passed with solid margins. The high school bond passed with 17,938 yes votes to 15,836 no votes.
The elementary school district bond had 15,975 votes in favor, and 12,482 votes opposed.
Five mill levies that would have given technology dollars, built a building reserve budget and helped the district update its textbooks all were defeated.
The elementary school district mill levy failed with 16,204 votes against and 12,448 votes in favor.
The high school mill levy failed with 18,108 votes against and 15,884 in favor.
The elementary school district technology levy failed with 16,816 votes against it and 11,838 votes for it.
The elementary school district building reserve levy failed with 15,972 votes against and 11,667 votes for it.
The high school building reserve levy failed with 19,734 against it and 13,857 for it.
"It's disappointing," said board Chairwoman Teresa Stroebe. "I just think we had to ask."
But that disappointment is tempered by the success of the bonds.
"I'm really glad (the bonds) passed," she said. "We were lucky to qualify for them."
More than 64,000 mail-in ballots were sent to voters this year and more than 38,500 were completed and returned for a voter participation rate of 60 percent, near record levels.
On the ballot were two federal bonds, known as Qualified Zone Academy and Qualified Energy Conservation bonds, worth $14 million. The two bonds are subsidized by the government, with taxpayers covering $8.5 million of the total $14 million.
With the mill levies, the district went after a five-year, $1 million building reserve levy for the high school district and one for the elementary school district.
Also on the ballot was a $1.2 million technology levy for the district's elementary and middle schools. Finally, a $880,000 general fund mill levy for the elementary schools and a $150,000 general fund mill levy for the high schools were on the ballot.
Had all five levies and the two bonds passed, property owners with a $200,000 home would have paid an additional $77 a year.
Mill levies across the county failed on Tuesday night.
A technology levy for the Laurel Elementary School District got 1,588 no votes to 1,278 yes votes. A technology levy for the high school district trailed as well, 1,549 to 1,376.
A building reserve levy for the Laurel Elementary School District lost with 1,509 no votes to 1,365 yes votes.
A part of the Laurel School District sits in Carbon County so votes there could change the direction of some of the levy votes. Officials in Carbon County did not answer the phone or return emails Tuesday night.
A general fund mill levy sought by Elder Grove School District failed 598 to 421.
Lockwood saw its fortunes turn around overnight. A technology levy passed 895 to 858. However, its general mill levy failed 894 to 852.
In Shepherd, an elementary school levy failed 616-366. A high school levy there also failed 776-526.
Shepherd also had a trustee race. Carl Openshaw beat challenger Steven Feuerstein 553-290.
Pioneer School District won its technology levy, 164-157. It also passed a building reserve levy 170-152.
The outcome in a trustee race in Pioneer saw Lisa Howe beat challenger Michael Ron Smith 153-129.
Independent School District lost its fight for a general fund mill levy, with 510 no votes to 342 yes votes.
In Broadview, the high school levy passed with 122 votes for and 67 against. In the trustee election, Darin Brown won a seat on the school board with 135 votes. Lisa McFarland had 23 votes.