SD2 board meets to talk budget and demographics

2011-07-17T16:00:00Z 2011-07-24T16:55:07Z SD2 board meets to talk budget and demographics

By ROB ROGERS

Of The Gazette Staff

The Billings Gazette
July 17, 2011 4:00 pm  • 

The Billings School District 2 board will take one more look at its budget Monday night and decide whether to pass it then or wait one more month.

Under state law, the district must adopt its budget by Aug. 25.

Superintendent Keith Beeman has presented budget scenarios to the board each month since January that include various combinations of extensive cuts and new expenditures they could consider.

Proposed cuts have ranged from eliminating steps-and-lanes raises in teacher union contracts to removing critical family illness leave for district employees.

Also proposed has been having district schools and offices go dark during spring, summer and winter breaks and moving to a four-day, 10-hour work week during summer vacation.

Along with those cuts are proposals for additional spending. Beeman has proposed adding counselors and librarians to the district — something the state has said SD2 must do to avoid accreditation trouble.

He’s also proposed spending more on technology and increasing health benefits for employees.

If the board approves all the proposed cuts and new spending, the district would break even for the coming school year.

But more distressing for trustees is the 2012-2013 school year. With Beeman’s proposed cuts still factored in, the district will be roughly $1.4 million in the red.

A large portion of the meeting will be spent going over a new study prepared for the district by Davis Demographics.

Commissioned last summer for $40,000, the report examines what the school-age population of Billings will look like over the next decade.

The study calculates that SD2 will see an enrollment increase of 5.2 percent by 2020, going from its current figure of 15,583 to 16,399 students. Much of that growth will come as the West End fills in over the next decade, the study found.

Davis uses trends in local birth rates, new construction rates, past district enrollment trends and growth in residential housing, among other data, to calculate its figures.

Trustees hope to use the report to help them draw up new school boundaries. As Billings’ population has moved west, more students have had to be bused to schools closer to midtown because of space shortages at West End schools.

Contact Rob Rogers at rrogers@billingsgazette.com or 657-1231.

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