With a House committee soon expected to mull a bill that would increase funding for technical education programs in Montana high schools, School District 2 Superintendent Terry Bouck is asking community members to write their legislators in support.

Bouck sent out a public newsletter Tuesday calling an anticipated hearing this week a “critical moment” for the bill that has been pitched by SD2 as a way to prepare students for jobs. The bill, HB356, is sponsored by Rep. Don Jones and would increase funding by a factor of 10 from $1 million to $10 million annually.

“We think it’s good for the economy, good for business and good for graduating students,” Bouck said.

The bill drew vocal support during a Feb. 5 hearing before the committee, including endorsements from the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the Office of Public Instruction and the national president of Future Farmers of America. No one spoke in opposition to the bill.

Bouck said he anticipates that on Thursday the House Appropriations Committee will consider including it in the general state funding bill. The dollar amount for career and technical funding will be determined along with all state expenditures in the last days of the Legislature.

The measure would distribute the additional funding according to the same formula as the existing allocation. SD2 received 8.7 percent, or $87,000, of the total CTE funds last year.

The bill would affect about 40,000 students statewide, Bouck said.

“Although this has a huge impact on BPS, it has an equal impact and equitable impact on the 154 school districts statewide,” he said.

Montana’s $22.75 contribution per student dwarfs in comparison to those of neighboring states, according to data collected by SD2.

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