Reversing a decision they made last month, trustees on the Billings School District 2 board voted Monday night to hold mill levy and bond elections next May.
The board had initially voted last month to hold the levy elections this September.
“We have to think about what else is coming forward (this fall), because it does take a lot of effort to do this,” said Trustee Connie Wardell.
So in an effort to give themselves time to organize and campaign, the board will couple the levy election with its regular trustee elections for this May.
The five-hour meeting, which was marked at times with tense interactions between some of the trustees, also included a vote to hire the consulting firm Fielding Nair for $50,000.
The firm will help the district develop a plan to create what it calls “21st century learning” within the district.
Included in the package will be a long-term facilities management plan for SD2.
Trustee Pam Ellis took issue with the proposal, arguing that bringing in the outside firm to tell educators how to do their jobs would hurt the district.
“We do have significant issues with staff morale,” she said. “I don’t think this will help.”
However, others trustees argued it was time for the district to be proactive in planning for its future.
“We are at the edge of jumping off into something that could be phenomenal for our kids,” said Trustee Greta Besch Moen.
The board voted to hire the firm in a 6-1 vote.
Much of the tension at Monday’s meeting came from disagreements Ellis had with how the board was interacting with Superintendent Keith Beeman.
She wrote a memo to her fellow trustees and to Beeman asking for information from Beeman’s office that she believes is not being shared with the entire board.
Board Chairwoman Barbara Bryan attempted to address the issue.
“We are at a crossroads,” she said. “Do we move forward as a team?” she then asked. Or does the board dissolve into factions riddled with mistrust, she said.
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