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New Billings school superintendent sets priorities



Billings, Montana – Changes are being made in the Billings Public School District. Some of the district’s present needs cannot be met due to lack of resources, so Superintendent Dr. Erwin Garcia is looking for community input on original solutions to these problems.

“We have to become the top tier district for the state of Montana, for the city,” said Garcia, who was hired in April. “So when parents think about ‘best education,’ they think Billings public schools.”

Gacia’s new strategy to address the long-standing problem of high school overcrowding comes first. This year, West High is expected to be at 130% capacity, and Senior High at 100%.

“What if we envision an early college high school where our kids can obtain an associate’s degree by the time they graduate from high school?” Garcia said.

According to him, the district is in talks with potential partners for such a scheme.

“With no cost to the taxpayer, what I envision is kind of revitalizing the Lincoln Center,” Garcia said. “That’s a school. We can use the third and fourth floor and make an early college high school, but we need the partners.”

Garcia also has aspirations for school safety, with plans for a larger police presence and a bigger focus on mental health.

“I have two boys, 11 and 9, and when they go to school I’m hugging them, I pray for them, because of the things that have happened in our country,” Garcia said. “My aspiration is for every single school to have an SRO (school resource officer) assigned to the school. That should be it. You have a police officer right in front of the school. That’s where we want to be.”

Current funding for school resource officers and mental health assistance comes from the district’s general revenue. Garcia is looking for cooperation with the local community to help the district.

Starting on Tuesday, September 5, there will be community meetings on these topics and others. The first is scheduled for 6–7:30 p.m. at West High School.


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