The transportation block grants the state of Montana pays to school districts is one of the sources Governor Steve Bullock is considering removing to help fill the state’s budget shortfall. Eliminating the grants in 2019 would save the state nearly $12 million.
But not all the school districts have a reserve fund to fall back on, and others that do can’t sustain the loss over an extended period of time.
This year in the Shepherd School District in Yellowstone County, the block grant brought in about $12,000 for the district. School Superintendent Scott Carter says the district has the money in its reserves to cover the loss for about a year.
“We are a large geographic district,” commented Carter. “We run our busses on all types of dirt roads: snowy, icy, muddy. We can do it for a year but long term it would cause us to reevaluate our transportation plan.
Laurel School Superintendent Dr. Linda Filpula says her district is in a more difficult financial situation: they don’t have a reserve. “In Laurel, with protested taxes, in order to access them you have to deplete your reserves, so we really don’t have the option of relying on those reserves,” said Filpula.
She says they’ll see what the impacts are at the end of the session and make the adjustments accordingly.