SD2 board, City Council talk high school parking complaints, demographics

2011-08-11T18:30:00Z 2011-08-12T00:20:16Z SD2 board, City Council talk high school parking complaints, demographics

By ROB ROGERS

Of The Gazette Staff

The Billings Gazette
August 11, 2011 6:30 pm  • 

Billings police will have more officers writing tickets this year to high school students who park illegally on city streets.

Every year, many of the residents around the three public high schools call the city to complain about the way students park off-campus, City Councilman Richard Clark said.

“We have complaints every year,” Clark said. “Mostly it’s kids parking in people’s driveways.”

Billings School District 2 Superintendent Keith Beeman said the high schools would go over the orientation material their students receive at the start of the school year to make sure legal parking is emphasized.

Police Chief Rich St. John said he would talk to school resource officers to make sure they’re encouraging students to be respectful of those who live around the schools. “We want to gain voluntary compliance,” St. John said.

Police also will send out more officers to the schools — members of its volunteer corps who are authorized to write tickets — to enforce parking laws.

Meeting over the lunch hour Thursday, trustees and council members discussed complaints that come from crowded street parking around the high schools and the new demographic study conducted by the district.

The demographic study, commissioned last summer for $40,000, looks at the student population growth across the city and includes software and training for district employees.

The company that performed the study, Davis Demographics, uses trends in local birth rates, new construction rates, past district enrollment trends and growth in residential housing, among other data, to make its predictions.

The study showed that enrollment in district schools will increase by 5.2 percent by 2020, going from its current figure of 15,583 to 16,399 students, the study said. Much of that growth will come from increases in West End and midtown populations.

Trustees told council members that the numbers in the study suggest that it’s time to redraw school boundaries. They show also that with the minimal student growth projected, there’s no real need for building a new school.

“These numbers don’t support that,” board Chairwoman Barbara Bryan said.

Council members expressed their interest in the study and were impressed by its findings.

“The more I read this, it doesn’t fit what I thought,” Councilman Vince Ruegamer said.

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

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