SD2 board meets Monday to discuss funding flexibility issues

2012-10-15T00:00:00Z SD2 board meets Monday to discuss funding flexibility issuesBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The Billings School District 2 board meets Monday night to discuss creating more flexibility between its elementary and high school districts.

SD2 is technically two school districts, one made up of its elementary and middle schools and the other, its high schools.

Trustees have discussed creating what's known as a multidistrict cooperative, a function approved by last year's legislature that allows districts to partner up as a way to increase efficiency between school districts and in some cases share funds between two districts.

"The intent of this section is to increase the flexibility and efficiency of school districts without an increase in local taxes," states the board's agenda.

The smaller, independent districts around SD2 — which send their students to SD2 high schools — have expressed concerns with the move. They worry that the interlocal agreement between SD2's elementary and high school districts will result in a double tax on the outlying communities. 

The independent districts — like Elysian, Canyon Creek, Blue Creek, Elder Grove and others — receive tax support from their local communities. However, because they also feed SD2's high schools, SD2 receives tax funds from their communities as well.

The smaller school districts worry that tax money from their communities intended for SD2 high schools will end up instead supporting SD2 elementary schools.

"We're in all avenues looking to defend and support our taxpayers," said Lucas Larson, principal/superintendent of Elysian School.

SD2 trustees have repeatedly stated that those funds would stay exclusively in the high school district.

By creating the interlocal agreement between the elementary and high school districts, SD2 would be eligible for additional one-time state funding reserved by the state as incentive money to encourage districts to enter into these partnerships.

At the meeting, trustees also will get an update on the master facilities plan currently under way in the district. The company creating the plan has held a series of community meetings with parents and staff in the district.

They have planned another round of meetings next week.

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