Editor's note: This story was updated at 10:35 a.m. Friday. The story was corrected to say Dan Villa's uncle owns a house on Flathead Lake, not on Georgetown Lake. Also, Dan Villa told The Montana Standard Friday that he did not say, "It's no surprise we're moving to Butte."
With strong dissension from two board members, the Anaconda School Board voted Wednesday to put two school bonds before Anaconda-Deer Lodge County voters on May 8.
The vote was 5-2, with Dan and Brandi Villa both voting against the measure.
The Anaconda School Board voted to ask residents to decide on two bonds — one that would continue $100,000 a year for maintenance to school buildings and the second to improve technology learning at the schools.
But school board members Dan and Brandi Villa spoke in opposition to adding the technology bond to the school board’s plan.
Dan Villa said Anaconda residents are already taxed enough.
“We have one of the highest property taxes in the state. It’s no surprise we’re moving to Butte,” Dan Villa said.
The school board also voted to accept Dan Villa's resignation Wednesday from the board. His term was supposed to end next year, but he is resigning next month because he and his family are moving to Butte-Silver Bow County.
Dan Villa said the school board needs to build a new reserve for the maintenance of the school’s buildings. The building maintenance bond going before voters will extend a building maintenance bond voters agreed to about five years ago. But, Dan Villa said, the school board doesn’t know yet how much the technology bond will be.
“I worry about people in Goosetown (a neighborhood in Anaconda), including my grandmother, who's paying (in property tax) as much as my uncle is paying for a house on Flathead Lake,” he said.
Brandi Villa, who is married to Dan Villa, expressed her opposition to having both a technology bond and a building maintenance bond. Brandi Villa fears that if both bonds are put before voters on May 8, Anaconda taxpayers will vote for the technology bond and not the building maintenance bond.
The school board doesn’t know yet exactly how much the technology bond will be, but it’s expected to be a smaller amount of money.
“We need the larger one more,” Brandi Villa told The Montana Standard after the school board meeting.
Anaconda Superintendent Gerry Nolan said he could have a budget before the next school board meeting on how much the school needs for technology.
Nolan spoke at length at how much Anaconda schools need to bring more technology to enhance the students’ learning experience. A group of Anaconda students gave a technology presentation to the school board before the vote. The children all had electronic devices and were logged into a program that challenges their learning abilities.
“What you saw together was education today. It was reading. It was math. It puts tools in the hands of the teachers. This is the state-of-the-art technology you guys built. Don’t stop,” he said.
The school board also approved, unanimously, the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to sample the interiors and school grounds at all three schools for heavy metals. That testing will take place during spring break, March 26 through April 2.