Wallace McLane’s letter (Sept. 2) states, school trustees “don’t have a clue as to how the real world works.” Over the last decades trustees managed decreasing state funding, incorporated unimagined new technologies in the classroom, and dealt with a stranglehold of new federal rules and regulations all while achieving among the best student scores in Montana. Doing more with less while dealing with a rush of technological and regulatory change; that sounds like the real world to me.
Contrary to McLane’s suggestion, SD2 does budget for building maintenance. In addition to daily maintaining 30 buildings averaging over 50 years old, those funds have paid for electrical and communication upgrades for 21st century technology; post-Columbine security systems; roof, boiler, lighting and fire system replacements; and significant investments in energy conservation which are now reaping substantial cost savings. Additionally, past local building maintenance levy funds were segregated and used, in compliance with state law, only on facilities. Project selection and management was overseen by a group of non-trustee business people.
Meanwhile, the state funding formulas have NOT included funds for building maintenance. To obtain state funding for buildings, communities must pass bonds which the Montana funding system helps repay.
Today Billings has an opportunity to further leverage their investment with federal money. You are indeed faced with a real world decision: Invest now in our schools taking advantage of state and federal monies; or wait for the price of procrastination to increase our need and bear the full cost locally. Vote YES!