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In a joint meeting Thursday afternoon, School District 2 trustees and members of the Billings City Council discussed how best to plan future school sites within the city. 

The district is seeking a multimillion-dollar bond from voters this fall to build two new middle schools, renovate McKinley and Broadwater elementary schools and catch up on deferred maintenance at other schools. 

Trustees hope to have the sites selected this summer so that voters will know where the new middle school will be built when they vote on the bonds. 

Collaboration among the city, county, SD2 and other local government agencies will be vital to ensure the best sites are chosen, said Trustee Kathy Aragon.

Aragon has been working with county/city planner Candi Beaudry to organize planning and training tools for public officials and members of the community to use in a school site selection process.

Wednesday night, the city will unveil the results of its Small Growth Technical Assistance Program run this year by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The program creates a model plan that can be applied to the various planning needs of the city and school district.

Two weeks later, in June, city and community leaders will participate in school site selection training by the Georgia Conservancy. 

"My gosh, I think with those tools we're going to come up with some very decent sites," Beaudry said. 

Lew Anderson, SD2's director of facilities, talked to the demographer who performed the district's demographic study last fall and asked, based solely on population growth trends, where he would recommend the district place schools. 

Anderson said the demographer's response was east of Main Street in the Heights and within a mile radius of SD2's property at 56th and Grand.

Also at the meeting, Superintendent Terry Bouck thanked city council members for their support of the district's two levies, which voters approved on May 7. 

A $1 million general fund levy will be used exclusively to hire teachers in an effort to bring down the district's high student/teacher ratio and to begin building up staff numbers so that the district can successful run newly constructed schools. 

Already nine new teachers have been hired, Bouck said. They'll begin in August.

He said the district will keep a running total on its website so that the public can see how much of the levy has been spent and how many new teachers have been hired.

"We're going to be transparent with this," said Leo Hudetz, the district's chief financial officer. 

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Business Reporter

Business Reporter for the Billings Gazette.