Bill would ease process to forming new high school districts


A new house bill introduced this week would adjust the process for elementary school districts seeking to form a new high school district, a move currently being explored among Billings’ West End K-8 districts.

House Bill 707, sponsored by Rep. Jodee Etchart, R-Billings, would change the current procedure that requires adjoining elementary districts to consolidate in order to form a new high school district.

Rep. Jodee Etchart, R-Billings

Photo Courtesy of Montana Legislature

She pointed to the current rate of growth in Billings and its overcrowded high schools along with the overall growth throughout the state as the reason this bill would benefit smaller K-8 districts.

“We have large population growth in Kalispell and…large population growth in Bozeman so it’s likely that we’re going to see this in more communities in Montana,” Etchart said before the house education committee. “And right now in Billings…West High and Senior are almost a total of 700 students over capacity.”

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