Students in Sue Nord's class

Senior High students listen to guest speaker McCarthy in Sue Nord's advanced government class Tuesday. The students can earn college credit for taking the dual-enrollment class.

CASEY PAGE, Gazette Staff

Billings Public Schools expect to outpace last year's enrollment in classes in which students can earn college credit, according to figures presented to School District 2 trustees Monday night. 

The district plans to offer 21 dual enrollment classes with about 700 filled slots. There could be some overlap between students taking multiple classes, so the exact number of kids is uncertain. 

That's up from 17 classes and 459 students enrolled last year, and far above the six classes and 70 students during 2014, the program's first year in SD2. 

"Overall, the program has been a win-win for everyone," said Montana State University Billings dual enrollment coordinator Harold Olson. "It's just going to continue to grow."

He also gave a shout-out to the tuition waiver that MSUB offers, which nixes a usual $151.50 fee for students. Only a handful of Montana colleges offer a financial break to high school students.

Olson said that eight teachers from Billings participated in a summer program to get certified to teach dual enrollment classes, in which students can earn credits applicable to any Montana university. 

Billings schools offer a handful of classes through other colleges, but most are partnered with MSUB. Olson said the tuition waiver has sparked some buzz around other Montana colleges. 

"They want to know how we do it," Olson said. MSUB offered the tuition waiver last school year when performance funding came in late, after the university had already structured its budget. The waiver was built into this year's budget. 

Teacher contract

Trustees briefly discussed a tentative contract reached with the Billings Education Association on Oct. 5. Union members will vote to ratify the contract Tuesday. 

If the contract is approved, trustees will likely call a special meeting to give their stamp of approval. 

So far this school year, teachers have been paid under the previous contract. A new contract, if ratified by union membership and SD2 trustees, will be retroactively paid dating to July 1.

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.