SD2 board comes away from weekend retreat ready to tackle issues

2012-01-09T21:45:00Z 2012-01-10T00:11:23Z SD2 board comes away from weekend retreat ready to tackle issuesBy ROB ROGERS Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
January 09, 2012 9:45 pm  • 

Trustees on the Billings School District 2 board spent the weekend at a three-day retreat designed to give them tools to better communicate with one another and the public.

Trustees have said better communication is a priority as they prepare to tackle some large tasks, including hiring a new superintendent before the end of the school year and possibly redefining school boundaries.

"We did a lot of good brainstorming," board chair Teresa Stroebe said.

Part of that was a decision by the board to hold meetings four times a month. Currently, the board holds its main meeting on the third Monday of the month, with additional meetings as they're needed.

With the change, the board's main decision-making meeting still will be the third Monday, but special meetings will scheduled for the other Mondays of the month, board Clerk Leo Hudetz said.

The additional meetings will be more like work sessions, allowing trustees to get up to speed on various issues before they're required to make decisions at their regular meeting.

Trustees spent time at the retreat discussing the best way to hire a new superintendent. Keith Beeman, who was hired in May 2010, resigned under pressure from the board in October.

At their next meeting, on Monday, trustees will vote on hiring a national head-hunting firm to find their next batch of superintendent candidates, Stroebe said.

"The national firm will not keep us from hiring from within or locally," she said.

Rather, the firm would allow the district to "cast a wider net," she said.

Jack Copps, who was superintendent before Beeman, is the district's interim chief.

Copps praised the retreat's facilitator, Dana Toole from Helena, and said the board made good progress over the weekend.

"The retreat created possibilities," he said.

One of those will be a possible restructuring of the district's school boundaries, which have grown haphazardly as Billings residents have moved farther west.

Stroebe said trustees will tackle the issue methodically and will probably start the process within the board's committee structure.

It was that issue that drew Ironwood and other West End residents to the retreat. At least a pair of residents were there for each session on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Stroebe enjoyed seeing the public there and said Toole brought the residents into the discussion at various points.

Stroebe said she came away from the retreat, which was held in the Billings Career Center library, with a better understanding that things and people can change and that she had to allow them to change.

"It was cool," she said.

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

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