The Bozeman School District continues to work hard improving an already wonderful school system. Officials will put a proposed expansion for Hawthorne Elementary School on the November ballot, asking for 5.5 million to improve the school. Even more interesting, the district believes they can gather the needed funds without raising property taxes on Bozeman residents.
Current plans include replacing old classrooms and improving the cafeteria in Hawthorne Elementary, all while creating more space for the school overall. The portable classrooms that were installed in the 1980’s will be removed and replaced with a new two-story addition. The cafeteria will also move from the basement to the first floor and be fully updated. Finally, some playground space that was used for portable classrooms will now be opened up once those are removed.
In order to get the needed funding for these improvements, school officials plan on using tax-increment financing, or a TIF, to raise funds without increasing property taxes. The downtown TIF was originally used to help create the parking garage near Main Street, but the extra reserves were reverted back to school funding. Money cannot be used outside of the district it taxes, so Hawthorne became the natural choice for these funds. Normally, school funding needs to come from the voter approval of some form of bond, which would raise taxes—this scenario will avoid the tax increase.
Bozeman continues to have some of the best public schools around. Their high school was recently honored as the best in the state. Keeping up to date with improvements will keep it so and keep Bozeman as attractive as it is to new potential residents.