Big Sky Roundup

Gianforte signs bill that gives more support to schools

By: - February 26, 2021 2:50 pm

Greg Gianforte delivers his inauguration speech after being sworn in as the 25th governor of Montana.

Gov. Greg Gianforte signed House Bill 15 into law this week to support K-12 public schools.

A news release from the governor’s office said state funding of public schools amounts to 45 cents of every state tax dollar. The bill applies inflationary adjustments to school funding.

“Our public schools now have the foundation to prepare for engaging student learning next year,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen said in a statement from the Governor’s Office.

Rep. Fred Anderson, R-Great Falls, sponsored the bill, which accounts for 69 percent of school districts’ general fund budget, according to the news release.

“Specifically, the BASE Aid distributions to Montana’s public schools is $827 million for next year, and $866 million for the 2022-2023 school year,” the news release said.

This distribution is carried in House Bill 2, sponsored by Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad.

Lance Melton, head of the Montana School Boards Association, said the Montana Legislature would have been hard-pressed to pass that funding bill any earlier. He credited Rep. Jones with work in a previous session that allowed the earlier passage of this legislation now and in the last couple of sessions.

Melton also said it’s especially important this year for school boards to have good information early about the budgets and resources available to them.

“This is sorely needed right now because of the uncertainty provided by COVID,” Melton said.

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