BILLINGS — Update 8:20 p.m.
Billings school trustees voted to approve bumping back the starting day of the next school year until after Labor Day.
This is a developing story. Check back for details.
Billings School District 2 could have a later start date for next school year. The calendar committee has presented two proposals to the school board for a Monday night vote, one of which proposes a start date after Labor Day.
It’s a proposal that’s garnered mixed reactions from parents, such as Auguste Goodell. She has two kids in the school district right now.
“I’ll have a third one starting kindergarten at school district 2 in the fall,” Goodell said at her home on Monday.
She might have to prepare for those changes if the board votes to delay next year’s school calendar year.
“I’ve only had kids in school with the current schedule, and it is nice to titrate them to the school year,” said Goodell.
Goodell won’t have the luxury of a slow start if the board agrees with recommendations from Billings schools Superintendent Erwin Garcia, who noted the district's two oldest high schools, West and Senior, are struggling starting during summer months.
“West doesn’t have an AC and Senior, part of the building has an AC. Just attending school in the summertime, I noticed classrooms can be 90 degrees, 95 degrees, almost 100 degrees. And our students and teachers have to go through that process for two to three weeks,” said Garcia.
He said it would cost $24 million to outfit the two high schools with air conditioning, something the district would have to ask the public to pay for.
“I don’t think, based on what I see the voters with taxation and homeowners, I don’t think this is going to go really well with them, so we’re going to have to think outside of the box,” Garcia said.
He said the weather in September is about 15 degrees cooler than it is in August. Parents who support the change say there are other reasons behind the later start date.
"The other reason for doing this is that we have an indigenous population that has very important tribal holidays that happen before, right now as school starts. And those indigenous communities are literally missing school to honor their heritage,” said Clementine Lindley, a parent of Billings public school students.
Lindley has two kids in the district and has been keeping close tabs on the proposal.
“This isn’t unilateral. This isn’t one teacher or one administrator. This is a committee, a bunch of people who know the pulse of our district,” Lindley said.
But many, like working mom Aubrey Peterschick, are wondering what it means for them.
“Right now, with the way that the school district works and like summer camps and some of those childcare options in the summer. Will some of those change and alter? Some of those impacts, they didn’t really discuss,” Peterschick said.
Goodell hopes the voters will consider all families' needs.
“I think just being able to take into consideration the majority and what would benefit the majority of our students versus a subset. I think that’s really important,” said Goodell.