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Billings School District 2 now has a place to put the tens of thousands of dollars it will receive each year thanks to a $2.7 million donation given in September.

The budgeting committee for the School District 2 board voted unanimously Monday night to create an account where that money can be held.

Dewey Hansen, a Senior High graduate and former history teacher who died last year, donated $2.7 million to the Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools, which announced the gift in September.

Hansen stipulated that the money had to be used specifically for Billings School District 2's three high schools — Senior, West and Skyview — and Laurel High.

The annual interest from the $2.7 million will be given to SD2 and Laurel to be divided evenly across the four high schools. With an account now set up to receive the funds, the district can move forward in distributing the money.

At the request of the committee, Dan Martin, SD2 HR director, attended the meeting to answer question about the district's various unions and how each work, including the contracts under which each operates.

Committee members had questions about how budget cuts could affect district employees when programs or positions were eliminated.

Martin told the committee that the earlier in the year the board makes layoffs, the better it is. It allows the teachers time to find a new job at a different school district and it allows the district to hire better applicants.

“It's very important to do this early,” he said.

Martin also said he expects a larger than usual amount of retirements this year, somewhere around 50 teachers.

Near the close of the meeting, committee chairman Joel Guthals, who also sits on the board, told the group that trustees are looking at changing the structure of the board's committee and the budgeting process.

At their retreat last month, trustees and Superintendent Keith Beeman discussed bringing more issues directly before the board before sending them to various committees for disucssion and recomendations.

“The board is working on a reorganization of its committee structure,” he said.

The goal, Guthals said, would be to draw in more public participation, manage time more efficiently and reduce the workload asked of district staff.

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

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

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