Smith Valley School bond ballots due March 28


KALISPELL, Mont. - There is only a week left to return ballots in for the Smith Valley School's $6 million bond.

As of noon Tuesday, about 30 percent of the school district ballots were returned -- a little over 300 of the 1,168 ballots mailed out.

The vote is bound to have a huge impact on the school and those who live inside the district.

At the school Judy Breland greets each student as they come in for lunch. She sits at the entrance of a building that currently serves as a gym, a kitchen and a lunchroom.

"Conditions are usually overcrowded," Breland said. "We have sixth, seventh and eighth graders in here right now. They're large kids, and they are packed in here."

Once the middle school is finished eating, they leave for P.E., a class that overlaps with first and second grade lunch.

Breland recalls dangerous situations because of the overcrowded area, "I was sitting there and got hit in the head by a volleyball in the back of my head at full force. Then our lunch gal who serves over here got a ball through her window and got hit in the chest and got the wind knocked out of her."

The district believes the answer lies in a $6 million bond to build a new gym, a new library, additional classrooms and upgrades to the septic and security systems, along with additional parking.

Despite all of the improvements some homeowners say the price is too high.

"There's lots of good in it, but on the same hand, it's a lot of property taxes that will be going up," says homeowner Brittany Trogden.

NBC Montana asked Trogden if she would be voting for the bond as the mother of a 3-year-old about to attend the school.

"I feel bad saying it, but probably not," Trogden said. "I have to think about providing a house for them and food and stuff."

If approved homes with a value of $200,000 will see an increase in annual property taxes of about $448.

Voters have until March 28 at 8 p.m. to have their votes count. ?

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