Twin Bridges School District budget outlook

The Twin Bridges School District began the school year with an increased budget over last year, due in part to an increase in the average number of students and the $20,000 mill levy approved by district voters in June.

The general fund adopted budget from the 2011-12 school year was $2,054,736, while the budget for 2012-13 came in at $2,118,098. According to the district budget report from the Montana Office of Public Instruction  for the 2011-12 school year, the BASE budget limit for the district was $1,663,305, and the property tax levy to fund the Over-BASE budget was $391,430.

This year the base budget limit for Twin Bridges is $1,706, 667, with the property tax levy to fund the Over-BASE budget amounting to $411,430. Superintendent Chad Johnson explains that part of the reason for this increase comes from the levy approved by the community in June.

“Between the increase from the state, between the little change in average number and the $20,000 levy, we got to boost that general fund budget,” Johnson said.

The average number of students belonging to the district, or ANB, is based on a three-year average used to calculate budget limitations, according to the 2011-12 OPI budget report. For last year, the district’s ANB was 266 between the elementary and high school. This year that number increased by three.

“Our enrollment really hasn’t changed, you’re talking a couple of students here or there,” explained Johnson. “But it’s the calculation of the ANB that’s helped us go up a couple.”

Johnson pointed out that the increase in the property tax levy to fund the Over-BASE budget is exactly the $20,000 mill levy approved by district voters. The BASE is the minimum amount up to 80 percent that the district can operate from permissively, Johnson explained, with the maximum being 100 percent. It’s essentially up to the community to make up the other 20 percent, he said, adding that every school district operates somewhere in between that margin.

“We’ve got huge support down here right now from our local tax base,” said Johnson. “We’re trying to stay close to that hundred percent so we don’t go through the roller coaster of bad years, good years, whatever it happens to be.”

The mill values for the Twin Bridges School District decreased from the 2011-12 school year to 2012-13, dropping from $4,322 to $4,070.

“This is the first year, even though we asked the voters for that, we still decreased the overall mills, the amount of tax dollars, because we just cut in other places,” Johnson said.

“This 2.11 mill is not the highest we could have went,” Johnson continued. “Obviously we’re trying to keep checks and balances and not just shoot for the moon every time.”

The Twin Bridges School District will celebrate their 2012-13 homecoming the week of Sept. 10-15. Highlighted events include Powder Puff Football at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Kangaroo Court at 7 p.m. Thursday and varsity volleyball at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Friday.

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