Elder Grove to hold community forum on overcrowding - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Elder Grove to hold community forum on overcrowding

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BILLINGS - The Elder Grove School District is facing a problem with overcrowding, and officials are exploring a variety of options to solve it.  

The school district is growing at a rate that will soon exceed available space, Superintendent and Principal Justin Klebe said. 

“So from 2012 until today, we’ve grown over 51 percent, and I guess a school our size that’s a pretty big number. That’s over 200 kids in just five years,” Klebe said.

He added that their school is expected to grow from around 650 students to 1,000 by 2022. The current campus is already out of lockers and lacks space to add more.

Expansion of the Billings West End, and new subdivisions such as the proposed Annafeld housing project next to Josephine Crossing, will likely contribute to the overcrowding.

“Subdivisions coming up - we have two directly north of us, we have one kitty corner, we have one on 44th (Street West). We don’t see it ever slowing down,” Klebe said.

Elder Grove held a community forum in the spring to gather ideas of whether taxpayers wanted to plan for this growth. After receiving overwhelming support, a master planning committee was formed.

District officials then based all designs off the feedback from the parents and community, Klebe said. Options included a new middle school at a different location and transforming the current campus to K-5, or building a new elementary school elsewhere, he said.

This could require Elder Grove Middle School students to be integrated into SD2, and it may only be a short term solution.

“Our students may even get split up, because they won’t be able to accommodate 150 kids at one middle school. So it may be 50 at Riverside, 50 at Will James,” he said.

Klebe added that the problem wouldn’t be solved by the new Ben Steele Middle School because it's already full.

These and other options will be discussed further at a community forum on Sept. 14.

“Probably 15-20 minutes informational, and goes right into interactive. We’ll have different stations,” he said.

This will give attendees an opportunity to ask any questions they may have, he added.

Klebe says there are potential positives and negatives to each of the plans, and stresses the importance of the public weighing in on the decision.

“It’s really important at this juncture for you to come, and we want to hear from you, so be part of the solution, and use your voice," Klebe said.

The forum begins at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 14. The public is welcome.

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