April 5, 2022
An Investment in the Amsterdam, Churchill, and Manhattan Communities
January’s District Newsletter contained an article titled, The Value of our Community Schools. That article spoke to the success of our schools being vital to the health and economic viability of our communities. “Our schools are a major driver of the economic viability of the Manhattan, Amsterdam, and Churchill communities. Our schools are the largest employer in the greater Manhattan area. The employment of our neighbors who serve as educators, support staff, bus drivers, school food service, paraprofessionals, custodians are all working together to meet the educational needs of the children in our community. The collective economic impact of our schools and all of those who work in the schools is significant for the economic health of our community. Our schools are the heart of our communities – the place where not only our students engage in learning, but our towns gather, socialize and work together to create a wonderful life for our children and ourselves. The doors to our schools are open not only to our students and staff during the school day, but to the greater community until late into most evenings. Our schools and pride for the community largely revolves around how all of us rise up to support our children and their growth and development through supporting their successes in academics, the arts, activities and athletics, providing an environment that promotes student success in education and in life.” (January 2022 District Newsletter) I believe an investment in our schools is an investment in our communities.
Our schools need to be able to fund the increasing costs of the day-to-day operations, which include, but are not limited to, heat and lights, curriculum and supplies, transportation for field trips, athletics and activities, professional development for staff, and salary, wages and health care costs for staff. This becomes increasingly difficult when these expenses exceed the state-set budget. The state determines our budget based on the previous year’s student enrollment numbers. Over the last three years, the enrollment in our high school has not increased which, in turn, means our budget has not increased although the cost of our day-to-day operations continues to increase. However, the mission for the Manhattan School District which is, Enter Here to Learn, Go Forth to Serve, remains the same. In May, 71 seniors from Manhattan High School will go forth to serve the Amsterdam, Churchill, and Manhattan communities. To maintain the high standards necessary for our students to be prepared to go forth and serve the greater community, we need to be able to recruit and retain quality staff in addition to the aforementioned needs.
At the March Regular Board Meeting, the Board of Trustees for Manhattan Public Schools approved the May 3, 2022, Annual School Election, which will include a high school general fund operating levy and a trustee election. The levy is for the high school district, which includes the Amsterdam, Churchill, and Manhattan communities. The levy is for the amount of $158,412.35 and will cost an estimated $12.53 per year on a home valued at $100,000, or $25.06 on a home valued at $200,000. The continual increase to the cost of day to day operations, coupled with the past failed high school levy requests has created a shortfall in our budget. We have been able to balance the budget with one time only money. If the current levy request passes, this would make great strides in bridging the gap in our general fund. The trustee election is for two vacancies on the board. Incumbents Rob Brownell and Brand Robinson, along with newcomer Bernadette McCrory, have filed petitions to run for the two vacancies. Ballots will be mailed on Friday, April 15, and should be returned to the Gallatin County Elections Office in Bozeman.
Again, an investment in our schools is an investment in our communities. Levies are for learning and bonds are for buildings. The Manhattan School District is grateful for past support of the bond building project six years ago and passage of the elementary levy two years ago. Thank you for supporting our schools so that our students are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to serve.
Brian K. Ayers