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Libby Schools look to move past large budget deficit

By Rebecca Vogt, KCFW Reporter, rvogt@kcfw.com
Published On: Oct 09 2013 07:33:50 PM MDT
Updated On: Oct 09 2013 08:58:56 PM MDT
LIBBY, Mont. -

In Libby, a failed school levy in May meant cuts to staff and classes. Now the district is trying to make do with what's left.

Last year, Libby High School senior Cody Barrick took an Experimental Science class -- he thought it would prep him for college.

"Certain students [our teacher] had in the past went on to college and had to write research papers," said Barrick. "And they knew how to write it and even taught their classmates how to write it because they had taken that class."

But that class and others have been axed, and so have 12 staff members. To make up for a budget deficit, the district cut $350,000 and then asked voters to approve a $350,000 operational levy. The levy failed to pass last spring.

"Some people look at it and say, 'You didn't need a levy. You're doing fine,'" said Superintendent Kirby Maki. "The thing is, 12 more people, they really work with kids. We need people to work with kids."

But despite the shortfall, Maki said he's not giving up on the Libby School District.

"We're not whining and moaning around the community. We're trying to enhance our programs all the way around," explained Maki.

We're told the light at the end of the tunnel is enrollment numbers. Current numbers are stable -- 1,138 students from kindergarten to grade 12. He predicts more students for the 2014-2015 school year, which could mean additional money from the state.

"We will financially be able to do more things next year," said Maki.

Barrick is graduating next spring, and he hopes other students don't lose classes that they want -- or need -- to take.

"If you're going to be successful, you can still be successful even though you don't have as many options," Barrick said.

"We need to work harder and smarter to be a little bit more innovative in how we use our money to make sure the kids are the least impacted," Maki concluded.