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Failed Tech Levy Could Mean Budget Cuts

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KALISPELL - Wednesday, Kalispell school officials say their options look bleak.

This comes after Tuesday night, when the high school technology levy got voted down by more than 200 votes.

Superintendent Darlene Schottle says she's surprised, and doesn't know exactly what happens next.

"We have to find some money somewhere," said Schottle.

Kalispell schools were looking to tax payers for some help, to the tune of $1.2 million, from both the elementary and high school districts.

The money is supposed to cover the cost of bringing the technology in the district up to snuff. Right now, computers in the schools often don't work and you can't always get on the internet.

Oddly enough, the elementary tech levy passed even though it will cost people more than the high school levy would have, since the high school district is bigger.

"By the fact that we had tried to keep it, in general, under $10 a year for most families, that it would be affordable enough and people would be able to see that this is the kind of infrastructure and technology we needed in order to get students ready for their careers or to go to college and I really did think it would pass," said Schottle.

Now, Kalispell is in a bind. Schottle says a good chunk of the levy money is meant to go toward amping up connectivity and bandwidth in the district, but you can't just pick and choose who gets better, faster internet. Schottle says it's an all or nothing deal, and without the levy money, the high school district can't pay its fair share.

"I'm not exactly sure how that's going to impact the high school district because we can't really increase the bandwidth or increase connectivity to the district without doing it to both of them," explained Schottle.

Options include pitching another tech levy, but that seems like a long shot. What's more likely is the budget will get cut somewhere else to free up some cash for the technology upgrade. Nothing has been decided yet. Schottle says the district plans to start looking for another money source soon.

This Friday morning, the Kalispell schools finance committee will have their first sit-down to start hashing out next steps.

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