Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - It’s been a perfect storm for Missoula County Public Schools recently, combining the loss of ESSER funding (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds) from the COVID years to declining enrollment to the specter of much higher residential property taxes, all of which may lead to staff reductions.

KGVO News spoke to MCPS Director of Communications Tyler Christensen on Thursday about some of the challenges facing the public school system.

MCPS Facing Budget Shortfalls and Possible Job Reductions

“Probably one of the biggest ones that we've been talking about for quite some time now it's just the end of the ESSER federal funding,” began Christensen. “That's quite a large bit of money. I believe it's about a $5 million reduction all by itself. But other factors have to do with just declining enrollment and then just the general rising costs that everybody is seeing at this time with goods and services and insurance and everything else.”

In a worst-case scenario, Christensen said reduced funding would mean lost jobs in the public school system.

In a Worst Case Scenario, Nearly 100 Positions Could be Lost

“At the K (kindergarten) through eighth-grade level that works out to approximately 20 certified position reductions,” she said. “Those are being considered based primarily on declining enrollment. At the high school level, there are 13 certified position reductions, and at the central office or administrative level, we're proposing 13 position reductions. So all told, between the general fund deficit and loss of extra funding, we're looking at at least 100 positions that will be impacted.”

Christensen said it’s vital that MCPS system residents vote for the upcoming operations levies.

Christensen said the Upcoming School Mill Levees Must be Passed by Voters

“The lion's share of those levees will be very, very important,” she said. “I can't stress enough the importance of the levees. In May, we're running operations levees that should be pretty minimal just to kind of continue our current functions, and then a couple of safety levies for the elementary and high school district to which doddle they would help us enhance some of our safety systems and security for our school communities, but also would relieve some of the pressure on the general fund itself. So that would be the most significant way for our community to have a direct impact on the school district finances."

Click here to view the most recent MCPS Board of Trustees agenda.

LOOK: Highest-paying jobs in Missoula

Stacker compiled the highest paying jobs in Missoula, MT using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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