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Hundreds of ‘unanticipated’ students coming to Billings School District 2 this fall, adding $800,000 to budget

Posted at 3:10 PM, Dec 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-17 18:50:30-05

BILLINGS – More students means more money for Billings School District 2 as an unanticipated increase in enrollment this year will place more money in the budget.

Superintendent Greg Upham said the board of trustees will be asked to pass Monday an amendment to put more than $800,000 of extra money into both the high school and elementary school budgets, provided by the Montana Office of Public Instruction.

The increased enrollment will give the elementary school budget to an additional $243,891 and give the high school budget an additional $557,074.

The money is based on an additional 305 students who enrolled in the school district for the 2018-2019 school year.

According to Upham, the enrollment is counted in the fall, and those numbers are sent to OPI for review.

The cost per student comes down to a formula calculated by the Montana Office of Public Instruction, so it’s something each school district in the state goes through for each fiscal year budget.

After the board amends the budgets, the process goes pretty fast, according to Upham. A check is mailed to the district from the state in a matter of weeks, he said.

That money will then go into the general school budget to be used for salaries, benefits, professional development, classroom improvements, equipment, repairs, books, software, and other supplies.

Where are these new students coming from? Upham believes students are coming in from “across the board” in all areas of the district.

At the elementary school level, the school district planned for 11,350 students but saw actually had 11,457 students enrolled this fall.

In the high school level, Upham said the district planned for 5,308 students but actually had 5,510 students enrolled this fall.

With more students coming into the district, Upham said it pushes the district up against its limits, but the district has the infrastructure to field it.

Trustees will meet Monday at the next board meeting to consider adopting an amended budget.

Reporting by Andrea Lutz