Flathead Valley Republican legislators believe that we must maintain high quality, affordable education for Montanans
Continue to improve quality education from kindergarten through college: The community colleges and university system provide career preparation for high school graduates. A smooth transition from high school to college, appropriate courses of study and affordability are our priorities as legislators. Montana's graduates are sought after by employers nationwide.
Revise the funding formula: The 2001 school district expenditure report shows that the average expenditure per K-12 student is $6,836. However, among the 448 school districts, the per student spending ranges from $3,564 to $26,516. The purpose of the funding formula is to equitably distribute state education money to schools to level the disparity between poor and rich districts. The formula has been patched several times to the point that it needs to be redone. A Republican bill draft has been submitted to do this.
Encourage districts to combine to save central administration costs: We welcome input from teachers and administrators on how to provide incentives to combine school districts. Combining school districts (without closing any schools) would save money on central administrative functions such as payroll, bidding, purchasing, contracts, transportation, food service, salary negotiations, building maintenance, bond levies, and all sorts of reports. Individual schools could still exercise control and supervision through their building administrator or principal-teacher, parent teacher association, and advisory school board. Combining these functions would free up money to address disparate salary schedules and health insurance benefits as well as classroom needs.
Retain and recruit quality teachers: Montana ranks 47th in teacher pay among the 50 states, yet Montanas spending per student ranks 25.th Our students are doing well because of outstanding teachers and strong family involvement.
Develop the school trust lands to generate more income: Timber on school trust lands should be managed to return maximum long-term value to schools. The Flathead Republican legislators were involved in promoting the harvesting of the dead and dying trees in the Moose Fire area for the benefit of schools.
Wyoming has tapped into the coal bed methane field just across our southern border. Wyoming's general fund went from a $160 million biennial deficit 3 years ago to a $700 million surplus last year. Wyoming is one of four states, which does not presently have a deficit. Among the 50 states, Wyoming ranks 17th from the top in spending per K-12 student. Montana's Republican legislators believe we can learn from Wyoming's successful use of natural resources.
Promote local control: We oppose unfunded mandates.
REPUBLICANS KNOW THAT OUR CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE. WE ARE PROUD THAT THEY SCORE IN THE UPPER 25% ON STANDARDIZED TESTS. WE CREDIT THE HARD WORKING PARENTS, TEACHERS AND OTHER PEOPLE WHO HELP IN THIS TEAM EFFORT.
WE PROMISE TO REMIND DEMOCRATS AND OURSELVES THAT EACH HARD EARNED DOLLAR COMES FROM YOU. WE WILL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE QUALITY EDUCATION AND SCRUTINIZE THE WAY YOUR MONEY IS SPENT TO ENSURE THAT EVERY DOLLAR IS SPENT WISELY.