Editors Note: Without a laymen analysis budget report available at the time of our publishing, we apologize for leaving our readers in a state of confusion.

By Tim Ravndal

On August 19th 2021, the Townsend School District Board met to adopt their final budget for the 2021-2022 school year. With deadlines quickly approaching for funding requirements the board members pushed forward the budget presented by Superintendent Susie Hedalan. As we stated in an earlier article on the school district August 10th meeting, the plandemic has weighed heavily on the financial structure of the schools.

Montana law 20-9-213MCA requires the district to present a financial summary to County Superintendent Doug Ellis no later than September 15th.

That same report is also required to be delivered to the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI on the 15th of September. This 2020-2021 55 page report is the official information required under law and was passed by the board.

As with all financial reports in government, there is an extensive need to understand funding sources and the many strings attached to that funding. The 55 page school District 2020-2021 summary report is available for citizens that wish to take a peak at how the annual budget is broken down.

The school board was also tasked with approving the final budget for the 2021-2022 school year. This multi-layered budget process is very difficult to follow due to the multiple layers of revenue and how those revenues are governed by law and policy. Fiscal year funding, including retirement program funding, at times is a moving target. The unknowns make it very difficult for the average accounting professional to give a precise fiscal accounting. The budget is based in part on the mills lobbied by the school district and in part approved by the citizens. The current value of a school mill is a changing target also impacted by the Montana Legislature.

One of the factors in school funding is known as debt service. This tentacle in the budget process for the fiscal year reaches nearly 1.5 million dollars. On that same report there is a taxable value of $16,407,535.00. The details for those interested are all in the 17 page Budget Report submitted to the board of trusties for approval. With little detailed discussion at the meeting, the members unanimously approved the budget {$5,270,679.91} as presented by Superintendent Susie Hedalen. The total actually may be in the range of 7.3 million once all of the tentacles are added together.

Plandemic Funding Gets Green Light

However…the budget process is not complete at this point due to the need to finalize the budget for the plandemic funds available. The presentation provided the board members a summary of the ESSER 1, ESSER 2, and ESSER 3. For those that missed the lesson in the last article, ESSER: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief

The discussion on the ESSER funds at the last meeting focused on the Montana School District ARP ESSER plans. These plans are required to be in place to ensure eligibility of available plandemic funding. The Townsend School District looks at accounting for the ESSER 2 funds to ensure compliance with the federal law. Spending that tax payer funding requires an extensive declaration of the funding uses. The board was presented with the final plan and by following the process the nearly $1,500,000.00 funding coming to Townsend School District is on track.

The board members also fielded the task of dealing with mask requirements in the school district. Superintendent Susie Hedalen at the last board meeting stated she was not certain on the rationale for requiring students to wear masks on the bus but not in the school. A legal inquiry was made on this concept and the legal opinion submitted by the school district attorney basically states that the school must follow the federal guidelines on the transportation system as presented.

The Montana Public Education Center is a gathering of multiple organizations that compiles and disseminates information throughout Montana. Montana Association of School Business Officials (MASBO), Montana Federation of Public Employees (MFPE), Montana Quality Education Coalition (MQEC), Montana Rural Education Association (MREA), Montana School Boards Association (MTSBA) and School Administrators of Montana (SAM) are all at the table of education here in Montana. Union influence was presented to the elected school board with a 31 page report on dealing with the plandemic.

School Board members are often overloaded with opinions from lawyers and other elected officials including appointed officials that are funded by the taxpayers of Montana. With legal requirements being questioned across Montana, teachers, students and families are not sure what will evolve. The officials of Broadwater County met earlier in the week where they discussed the impacts on the community looking for answers. The fear is prominent across the area with the increase in cases being reported.

The fact that Broadwater County and the Townsend School District are not on a mandatory mask order, it may be still on the table. The authority to mandate medical devices or other measures outside of the normal safety precautions requires a declaration of an emergency. Superintendent Susie Hedalen stated that the district is still under an emergency declaration. We asked when that was extended past the original declaration and at what meeting was that done, but there was no response by publication.

School Bus Owners Could Face Severe Penalties If A Mandatory Mask Order is Violated

The school is not mandating a mask order at this time, but students that ride the bus are required to wear them. If the district and contractor were to ignore the federal position on public transportation, there is a potential of a $25,000.00 fine if caught.

Superintendent Susie Hedalen Opines On Plandemic

The Townsend public schools will be opening very soon. The students and families will be tasked with maneuvering through the gauntlet of plandemic changes and adaptations by officials from the county health department on up to the President of the United States. Standing for family first is being echoed across Montana.

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