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Billings school district using levy money to boost education

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-17 14:48:49-04

BILLINGS – School is out for the summer, but Billings School District 2 Superintendent Greg Upham and his team are spending the summer buying new text books, updating chemistry labs and hiring four career coaches in the Billings high schools.

The district has new instructional materials, including textbooks, picked out and ready to order. They are on display at the Lincoln Center right now for the public to see and comment on.

The district is working toward these goals after a $970,000 high school levy was passed by Billings voters in May.

With the hiring of the career coaches, Upham wants to create a pathway for students who want to enter the workforce right out of high school.

“It’s no longer, ‘I’m going to go to college or I’m going to start a career,'” Upham said. “They are intertwined. We want to open up those opportunities so that students have access to careers while they’re in high school, just like they are being prepared to go to college.”

Upham described the process of filtering students to their respective career interests as a hub and spoke. Groups like Job Service and Big Sky Economic Development will work with the district’s community outreach director as the hub. Then the career coaches will be the spokes, directing students to a job that they have chosen.

Upham said he wants the high school day for juniors and seniors to look different.

“We want them on the job site, in the workplace while they are in high school,” Upham said. “So they can get a flavor and a taste of exactly what the expectations are in the career that they are interested in.”

Upham wants students in middle school to be thinking about their future.

“We want our middle school teachers and support staff, our middle school students and middle school parents to understand specifically what careers are open to them, and the pathways that SD2 has built in middle school,” Upham said. “So when they sign up for classes their first year they already have in interest portfolio put together to help them align to the direction they may want to go with their careers.”

Upham added he’s excited for the work being done this summer, and he’s thankful that Billings voters gave his team an opportunity to do it.