Lockwood School Superintendent Tobin Novasio responds to the Gazette editorial this morning. The MT Senate Bill 107 is scheduled to be on the agenda for second reading today on the MT Senate floor. Click here to watch the senate floor session at 1pm today. (It is the 11th bill to be heard today)
Here is what Novasio wrote in response below.
This is a completely irresponsible editorial by the Gazette!
First, they did not contact anyone at Lockwood School to get our perspective.
This bill does not give the current K-8 districts anything more than the opportunity to decide if they want to tax themselves and educate their own children.
The distribution of assets just acknowledges that our taxpayers have equity in the three current high schools which our taxpayers have been funding for generations.
If the author would have bothered to follow the bill they would know that any bonded debts will stay with all the property that was part of the district when it was voted for. Lockwood will continue to pay off the SD2 HS bonds; this amounts to about 2 mills.
The resolution process in the bill merely follows current law by using the County Superintendent. Why would the Legislature create a completely new process different from current practice just for this one issue? This would further complicate the situation.
The idea that Lockwood would have more money to spend per student has such a small impact it can hardly be considered a “cost borne” by taxpayers. You are referring to a 50 cent decrease for each student up to a total of 800 – basically 250 kids in this case. Either the author did not do their homework before publishing this opinion or they are trying to mislead their readers by exaggerating the issue.
This bill should be looked at at a “win-win” for the Billings community. SD2 is currently redistricting the elementary and building new middle schools to deal with overcrowding. Eventually taxpayers will be asked to pay for a high school – something that Lockwood is just asking for the opportunity to consider. With quality leadership this could be used as an opportunity to avoid a HS building bond, reduce class sizes and keep more kids from dropping out.
I would suggest that anyone interested in this issue go to the Big Sky Business Journal and read the editorial titled “If Graduation Matters, So Should Lockwood Issue” to get both perspectives on this bill.
Please do your homework on this issue. Opponents of this bill are fixated on what they see as lost funding and are using misinformation and the complexity of the state funding system to confuse the situation. They are focused on the dollars, but we just want to make sure that our kids are getting the best opportunities for success.
Stay tuned to the weekly Yellowstone County News for full coverage of Senate Bill 107.