Billings School District 2 will begin working with RiverStone Health and Billings Clinic to look into and begin early planning and design work on a school-based health center at Orchard Elementary.

During its regular board meeting on Monday night, the SD2 Board of Trustees unanimously approved a draft of a memorandum of agreement with the clinic and RiverStone to collaboratively design the center, which would be based at Orchard, at 120 Jackson St.

“This will give our kids an opportunity, and our parents, to make sure that they have hopefully the healthcare that others are more fortunate (to have),” said John Felton, president and CEO of RiverStone Health.

The memorandum says that SD2 will provide educational expertise and space design, Billings Clinic will provide expertise in mental health services and clinical program development and RiverStone will bring its experience in primary care services and clinical program development.

Working on a plan

Officials at Monday’s meeting said that the approval doesn’t mean that the center will become a reality immediately, only that they’ll begin working on a plan and eventually present a report that includes a recommended course of action in developing the program.

“It doesn’t tell you that we’re going to do it right away,” Felton said.

Program support

Several trustees expressed their support for the program, saying that it provides a valuable service to under served and low income students, but also had questions about where the school would house it.

“I’m very much in approval of this, but how are we going to create the space that is needed,” Kathy Aragon asked.

Superintendent Terry Bouck said that he and other officials have already looked at the school and identified a handful of potential areas within the school, as well as ways to reshuffle some programs to create space.

He also said that upcoming redistricting efforts could have an impact on the number of students at the school, which could in turn impact what space is available to house the center.

“I’m excited to see this move forward,” said Trustee Allen Halter.

In other news, the board decided to interview the two candidates for a trustee position vacant since Lindy Graves resigned in May at its meeting on June 30. The board will interview each of the two candidates, Sara Neff and Rob Rogers, that evening and could make a decision before the meeting ends.

The trustees also voted unanimously to appoint trustees Janna Hafer, Tanya Ludwig and Kevin Toohill to a redistricting team, which includes members of the public and is tasked with redistricting the middle school and elementary school attendance boundaries. Trustee Susie Layton was named as an alternate.

During his regular superintendent’s report, Bouck told the board that the installation of new video cameras and auto-lock systems at Billings Senior, Skyview and West high schools, as well as the Lincoln and Career centers, will begin soon.

The upgrades will include outfitting five to six doors with locks that allow access only with a district-issued multi-use card that will act as a student or staff identification card, a library card and a lunch card. Installation should wrap up in the early fall, Bouck said.

He also announced that the district will have guided tours at Broadwater and McKinley elementary schools over the summer. The aging school buildings are undergoing major renovations thanks to a voter-approved bond issue.

“We’ll be very public and invite people to do that,” Bouck said.