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Reasonable funding needed to educate all students

2012-10-09T00:00:00Z 2012-10-09T11:38:04Z Reasonable funding needed to educate all students The Billings Gazette
October 09, 2012 12:00 am

To the principal of Independent School who states that "AA schools get the lion's share of school funding," that is not correct. Billings has almost 11 percent of all Montana students and we receive less than one half of 1 percent of the total state entitlement dollars. AA schools educate about 40 percent of all Montana students but do not receive close to 40 percent of the total dollars allocated from the state.

The Legislature’s role is to assure adequate funding for a quality school system; we need funding that is adequate for all schools. The superintendent of the Saco District did not note that Saco's per-pupil spending in the high school district is $27,286 (statewide average of $9,777; Billings $9,734). Billings does not have a swimming pool. Saco High School has less than 40 students; Billings has about 6,000.

Billings Schools had an increase of 319 new students in 2011; 300 enrolled in grades K-3. Billings has 43 kindergarten classrooms, 27 have more than 20 students. To meet state accreditation standards, Billings needs 44 additional teachers and 33 additional classrooms. Billings class sizes exceed both state and national averages.

We know smaller classes in grades K-3 improve student achievement in reading and math and result in a higher graduation rate. We cannot continue to educate 300-plus new students each year with the same dollars.

We can fund the needs of all students by asking for a reasonable-sized pie to be shared rather than fighting over crumbs.

Pam Ellis

Public school trustee


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