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A Billings police car

A Billings police car sits in front of Lewis & Clark Middle School during a lockdown Tuesday.

Billings Public Schools will add a school resource officer next school year, in addition to other safety upgrades.

Superintendent Terry Bouck announced changes at the School District 2 trustees meeting Monday.

The officer will be assigned to rove between elementary schools. The district has seven officers assigned to high schools and middle schools.

“I love to have trained people in there,” Bouck said.

SD2 pays for the officer’s car, weapons and electronics as an up-front cost and salary and benefits as continuing costs.

School security has been under a magnifying glass since 17 were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February. President Donald Trump has repeatedly endorsed the idea of arming teachers, sparking nationwide debate.

In Montana, school boards can give permission to anyone to carry a firearm in schools. Only three rural schools had an armed staffer last school year, records requests showed.

Trustee Janna Hafer asked if the district has considered armed volunteers, especially those with a background in law enforcement.

“I think that’s an in-depth discussion where you look at data too, where that’s been implemented,” Bouck said. “Right now I like SROs ... when you start putting guns in buildings, you’ve got to make sure you’ve got accountability.”

The district will also be applying a film to windows on exterior doors at schools designed to reinforce the glass. It won’t stop bullets, but it helps prevent someone from breaking in a window, Bouck said. Elementary schools will be the first to have the film applied.

The district will also be reviewing security policies and has tabbed activities director Mark Wahl to oversee security and emergency preparedness in addition to activities. Wahl will jettison some other duties to compensate.

New superintendent 

The search to replace Bouck, who will be retiring at the end of the school year, will take another step forward at a special board meeting Wednesday. 

The meeting is regarding the selection of semi-finalists to interview and establishing interview questions. 

Trustees are hoping to have a new superintendent picked by April 14. 

Curriculum objection

A trio of parents objected to curriculum materials in a high school psychology class.

Codele and Matthew Lurker described a website and online commercial used during a lesson on gender in advertising as “pornographic.” They argued lax oversight of teaching materials led to an inappropriate situation.

The Lurkers and another parent whose kids were not in the class detailed their objections during the public comment period.

Matthew Lurker said an earlier meeting with district officials resulted in an acknowledgement that “discussions have taken place, the teacher is sorry, and it won’t happen again.”

Trustees didn't comment on the parents’ concerns during Monday’s meeting. The board consistently maintains they’re not legally allowed to interact with the public during the comment period.

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.