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Bozeman School District considering elementary school closure to address budget shortfall



Bozeman, Montana – Bozeman School District Superintendent Casey Bertram attributes the $4.1 million budget gap in the K–12 general fund to a number of factors, including the opening of Gallatin High School and lower-than-expected enrollment.

One of the four smaller elementary schools—Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, or Irving—is among the ten recommendations that are made. A prospective closure like this one has personal significance for Doreen McMahon.

“My son actually went to Irving and then transferred to Morning Star,” says McMahon, “I have friends who have kids that went to Longfellow and they’re just great neighborhood schools.”

According to Bertram, shutting an elementary school would result in a $300,000 savings for the district. Additionally, new school boundaries would be drawn. According to Bertram, he is aware that closing an elementary school would have a substantial impact on the families and students in that particular school as well as ripple effects on the K–5 schools because new elementary school boundaries would need to be drawn.

A school closure, in the opinion of locals like McMahon, would only be a temporary solution.

“The way that Bozeman is booming, I can’t imagine that they’re not going to need to reopen in a few years,” says McMahon.

Other options for saving $4.1 million in total include raising the cost of extracurricular participation, scaling back on administrative costs at the central office, closing the Bozeman Charter School, and cutting other employees.

Although no decisions have been made on the proposals, trustees will talk about the suggested cuts at the school board meeting on January 9.

You can read the complete BSD7 Budget Reduction Recommendations for additional details on the recommendations.

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