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Billings school board asking voters to approve $5 million safety mill levies

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Posted at 1:03 AM, Feb 27, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-28 10:34:40-05

BILLINGS - The School District 2 board looked at a couple of mill levies, about $2.5 million each in the elementary and high school districts.

Parents commented at the Lincoln Center board room on Monday about the proposals and how they will help with safety in the schools.

Camera systems, safety supplies, and adding personnel are a big part of the plan.

"It covers all sorts of amazing things," said Emily Romrell, a member of the group "Yes for Safe Schools Billings" and part of the district's Parent Safety Advisory Committee.

During the public comment period, Romrell talked about mental health and school shootings.

"This levy provides, and I'm using the FBI's words here, the single most important feature of the FBI's recommended model for disrupting planned targeted violence," Romrell said.

The board unanimously voted, 7-0, to present a $2.4 million elementary levy to the public and voted 8-0 on a $2.52 million high school levy.

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Both levies propose adding counselors nurses, school resource officers mental health specialists, and gang prevention and dropout prevention specialists.

Others also expressed concern about mental health.

"They're going to increase the mental health professionals and counselors," said Erin Walker, part of Project Stand. "We know that a lot of kids are dealing with depression and anxiety and so those professionals that are working right now are totally overloaded, and kids need better access to mental health."

"This will touch everyone," said Jim Duncan, a mill levy supporter. "Every part of our community can see how they will benefit from it. It'd be nice to be building a gymnasium for Boulder Elementary and things that people can kick the tire on. But this is just something I don't think we can leave unaddressed."

"The school district is perfectly poised to help in a lot of these problems that we're facing with," Walker said. "They just need the funding.