In its first official act of the evening, the Billings School District 2 board swore in two new trustees and an incumbent Monday night, ratifying the results of the May 6 elections.
Susan Layton and Tanya Ludwig, who replaced outgoing trustees Travis Smith and Travis Kemp, took the oath of office along with Trustee Janna Hafer, who won re-election to her seat.
The remaining trustees thanked Kemp and Smith for their service and said farewell to Trustee Lindy Graves, who resigned his seat last week. Graves is moving to take a job in South Dakota.
His departure leaves a vacancy on the board, which the district will try to fill over the next six weeks by interviewing and appointing an applicant.
But much of the meeting was dominated by discussion on school district consolidation.
SD2 is actually two school districts, elementary and high school. The Montana School Board Association is looking to craft a resolution seeking specific legislation that would allow some school districts in the state to consolidate to a single K-12 district.
The effort is being led by the East Helena School District. The MTSBA is holding a meeting later this month to discuss the issue and its requested that Superintendent Terry Bouck and board Clerk Leo Hudetz attend.
Bouck, at Monday night’s meeting, sought direction from the board on what to tell the MTSBA when they went to Helena.
At issue is the way the resolution has been framed. Were it to move forward the way it’s written, SD2 would consolidate in a way that would eliminate Lockwood from the school district.
Lockwood already has its own K-8 district and its high-school aged students attend high school either at Skyview or Senior in Billings.
The resolution would allow Lockwood to become a K-12 district, opening the door to a new high school there.
Hudetz told the board that losing Lockwood students from SD2 high schools would impact the academic environment at the schools — Lockwood kids are good students, he said. It also would effect the bottom line of the district.
SD2 would lose roughly 500 students and $2.1 million in funding.
Trustee Teresa Stroebe, who represents the Lockwood area on the board, spoke at length about letting the facts guide the MTSBA’s discussion in Helena and not sending Bouck and Hudetz there with any direction.
In a 7-1 vote, the board directed Bouck and Hudetz to go to the meeting and offer no support for the MTSBA’s resolution.