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Feb 7, 2012 9:05 PM by Jesse Kester - Q2 News

Parents discuss class overcrowding with Billings school officials

BILLINGS - A meeting is under way tonight at Will James Middle School to discuss overcrowding issues in the city's west end schools.

Parents of Arrowhead Elementry students toured the facilities at Will James to see where their upcoming sixth graders could be sent to school.

Some people asked about potential class sizes and if the sixth graders would be mixed with the other grades. School officials say the class sizes will remain the same, about 30 kids per room, but the sixth grade would become a "school-within-a school."

That would mean the new students would have the same teachers and school structure, just within another building. The new students to Will James would be intergrated with the seventh and eighth graders in assemblies and school events but would be isolated for lunch and most class room time.

Many parents have spoken out against the move because it does not address large class sizes and the issues with bussing students from Arrowhead.

School authorities say the move makes sense because it allows room for new teachers and classrooms if they should become available.

The move could also serve as a pilot program for moving sixth graders around the city to middle schools with the "school-within-a school" concept.

The transition must be approved by the school board before it can take effect as early as next school year, and principals of both schools said this is a short term fix to a long term problem.

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