Betting on the Future
The current economic climate has us, as citizens of Bozeman, focused on jobs. Jobs are an indication of a vibrant economy and a where we are as a community. Jobs, as economic metric, equate to growth, but moreover they mean stable families, happy people and a healthy community. Montana state legislators are continually looking to create new jobs and retain existing ones. Coupled with the goal of reducing government spending the 62nd legislative session has a pretty tall order. By my estimation, job creation requires an investment, from citizens, businesses and government.
As citizens we have the opportunity to make our will known that we support job creation at the ballot. The Elementary and High School Fund Levy on the 3rd of May is specifically an investment in our children and, by extension, about jobs. One may wonder, what is the connection between jobs and education?
Put simply, education creates ideas; ideas spur innovation and innovation is cornerstone to a growing economy. Our education system aims to create curious, disciplined and hard working citizens that plug into our economy. If we want to create jobs we need to accept that fact that we need to invest in the driver of jobs – our public school system. With this connection in mind we have no better example of than the Bozeman School District (BSD7).
In 2010 -11 BSD7 has led in a diversity of measures. The football won state – the first title in 93 years. The girl’s cross-country team has earned its fourth consecutive state title. The wrestlers wrangled the first state championship in 39 years and the students in automotive shop won the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition. It’s comforting to know these students will graduate and work on our vehicles, making life safer for all of us. There are 8 National Merit Finalists, an award bestowed upon the brightest and most promising students. Paul Anderson, who teaches biology at the high school, is Montana State teacher of the year and is one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year. This is the first time since 1953 that a teacher from Montana has made it this far. Three BSD7 schools are state recognized Blue Ribbon Schools, a recognition that comes with dedication and perseverance.
This value to the community isn’t free. We have to believe in the service and quality of our education system and support it as such. The Elementary and High School General Fund Levies are this opportunity.
If these levies pass, our tax requirement would decrease. The school district will be retiring the temporary mill levy for Hyalite Elementary School, as it fulfilled its mission. If the levies do not pass, taxes would decrease slightly more. Either way we will see a decrease in tax. This small windfall needs to be reinvested into the education system. The current request, if approved, amounts to an overall decrease 72 cents per $100,000 of property value. With state school funding yet to be determined we need to approve the funding measure to ensure that our schools continue to be leaders in the state and in the nation.
Sound investments take time. Solid returns do not happen overnight. If we want to be a growing community education is a safe bet. Companies looking to relocate or expand often look at the value a community places on education. The recent comment by the former CEO of Intel to Arizona lawmakers on how de-funding education affects business development is a clear reminder that business needs an educated workforce. If we want to be a magnet for business development and the jobs that come with it, a vote for the school levies is the right decision.