Gardiner Schools Loses Millions Of District Funding - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Gardiner Schools Loses Millions Of District Funding

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GARDINER -

For nearly 40 years the Gardiner School district has been receiving thousands of dollars of funding from the U.S. Department of the Interior and now due to an overlook that funding has stopped.

"The claim is there is a current outstanding debt from anywhere from 7 to 10 million dollars that either has to be paid back or forgiven," said JT Stroder, Gardiner Schools Superintendent.

The money was given to the school district as part of a federal law passed in 1948 that helped provide education to children living on untaxed federal land in the Yellowstone National Park.

The law changed in 1977 and that's when payments were supposed to stop. Since then, the school district has been receiving $500,000 per year broken into two payments of $400,000 in November and $100,000 in the summer.

Gardiner Schools Superintendent, JT Stroder said that funding accounted for 20% of the schools annual budget.

"I think there could of been more done to ensure that the level of service we've been providing those students was the same until this was resolved," said Stroder.

And now with it gone, he said some things could be cut from the district.

"Basketball is currently at stake," said Stroder. "Pretty much all district travel related to professional development is canceled, most field trips are canceled and we're considering track. We haven't made a decision yet, but right now everything is on the table."

Julie Rehmer is a parent of 12-year-old that is expected to start track this spring.

"He's looking forward to track and other sports. I would just be very devastated and he would be too if the program gets cut," said Rehmer.

And students are bummed that their sports might be cut.

"It would be awful because tract is really what I look forward to at the end of the school year," said Zac Macy, student.

"It would be terrible if it was cut because track is really important to me," said Emma Burke, student.

The West Yellowstone school district is also affected by the cutting of these funds. The Montana delegation is trying to negotiate with the Department of the Interior to find a solution that could possibly include debt forgiveness.

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