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School board turned down valuable opportunity

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I would like to add some additional information to the article in last week’s issue that provided details about the May 12 School District #30 Board meeting in Ronan. During the meeting the board decided not to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) that would have given the District the opportunity to apply for federal money if an application currently being put together by OPI was accepted at the federal level. 

The article never mentioned the amount of money, which was substantial. Approximate amounts of money that Ronan could’ve eventually applied for ranged from $611,720 to $764,640. Fewer than five percent of Montana’s school districts did not sign the MOU with OPI. 

The signing of the MOU did not bind the District to any agreement to accept either the money or the “additional strings attached,” that were of concern to the board. All the MOU would have done was keep the Ronan schools moving forward along with the state’s application and allow the district to apply for some or part of the district’s allocation at a later time if they desired.

School districts routinely complain about the lack of federal support for the costs of educating our children and worry that more and more educational costs are being handed over to property tax payers at the local level. In this instance, the board and Superintendent Andy Holmlund chose not to even investigate if the district could utilize some or all of the estimated federal money before turning it down. 

Perhaps some of the dollars could’ve been used in a way that would’ve provided some relief to district residents who support our school with significant amounts of property taxes.

Gale Decker


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