Unoccupied Schools - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Unoccupied Schools

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Overcrowding is an issue in Billings schools, but some people in the community wonder why there's unoccupied schools that aren't being considered as solutions to the issue of overcrowding.

Rimrock and Garfield used to be schools in Billings. While the building could help with overcrowding, the baggage that comes with the former schools almost eliminates the possibility.

"In order to open it, we'd have to invest somewhere between $1.2 to $1.7 Million into Rimrock to make it operational," says Terry Bouck, Superintendent of School District Two.

Rimrock has been closed for nearly 10 years, and Garfield hasn't been owned by SD2 since 2007.

"Rimrock would require ADA requirements, fire code issues, I believe some roofing, just a lot of deferred maintenance that has taken place over the years," says Bouck.

Not only would it require a great day of money to renovate, the cost to operate the 200 student capacity building would be the same as a school that can hold 400 students.

"It's a lot more expensive to run a smaller school," says Bouck.

Rimrock school also sits in an area where there isn't a need for an elementary school, part of the reason it closed nearly 10 years ago.

"If we were to open Rimrock, we'd end up bussing students in, and quite frankly, that's another waste of money," says Bouck.

Bouck says the real need is for two new middle schools and to move to the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade model. That way, the 6th graders would move out of the elementary schools, allowing for more room for K through 5th grade.

Election Day is just over a week away, and SD2 officials continue to seek the publics help in passing the bond.