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Understaffed Missoula Elementary Schools Behind $804,000 Mill Levy Request

Cold Springs School
photo by Peter Christian

Missoulians should have their ballots already for a local $804,000 mill levy request by Missoula County Public School District one elementary schools. Superintendent Mark Thane says one of the main reasons for the mill levy is to maintain accreditation.

“In our elementary district we had an increase of 461 students from 2010 to the present. We are looking for support from the public to increase our budget capacity by 2.4 percent. I want to be clear that that increase is not just to take care of inflationary concerns, it’s also to add additional staff.

The accreditation limits have already been breached at a number of elementary schools in Missoula. Thane says, at this point, accreditation is being fulfilled by hiring para-educators.

“We are actually¬† already exceeding the limits in some places. Quite honestly it is happening in nearly all of our elementary buildings right now in one classroom or another. Particularly the south side is challenged right now: Cold Springs, Chief Charlo, Russell, Lewis and Clark… Rattlesnake Elementary on the north side.”

The standard is 20 students per classroom for kindergarten to second grade, for third and fourth graders the standard is 28 students per classroom. After that teachers can be matched with 30 students up through high school.

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