Voters Argue SD2 Bond Pros and Cons - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Voters Argue SD2 Bond Pros and Cons

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Billings voters have until Tuesday to approve or deny the nearly $122 million bond to fund new schools and deferred maintenance.

How to achieve what's best for kids is creating a bit of controversy. It's too soon how voters will decide. People are coming forward with some concerns. According to Century 21 realtor, Kate Hamlin, voting yes for the nearly bond means better education, better schools, and a better Billings. "If you just skip two cups of coffee, you're going to be able to pay for two new middle schools, two new renovations, have a technology budget, work on some deferred maintenance. So the pro list is incredibly long, but the con list is 11 dollars a month for the average homeowner," Hamlin said.

But, former school district two board member, Connie Wardell, said new schools aren't the answer. "If you vote yes for this, you're going to be voting for what's not financially sustainable. Which means there will be cuts in education where they are important," Wardell said.

Wardell said the district should build on existing schools to deal with overcrowding, which would cost less than half of the price of two new schools. "It's really a concern to me to see the district go down this road. We don't need to have people upset with the school district again, because we didn't give people all the facts," Wardell said.

While Wardell believed sd2's spike in enrollment will level out in the coming years, Kate Hamlin believes newer schools will attract more people to Billings. "It's just going to help bring in more high-quality individuals in our community, and keep the ones we have. Everybody wants their kids to go to a shiny new school, and it's going to allow that opportunity for new schools to go in," Hamlin said.

With a week away, both sides are still presenting strong arguments to move forward. "So, if you're really for kids, you're going to vote for what enhances curriculum, and you'll vote 'NO' on the bonds," Wardell said.

"So, I'm just really thrilled we have the opportunity for this to hit our ballot, and I hope Billings supports our students and votes 'YES' for kids," Hamlin said.

The Yellowstone County Elections Office already sent out mail-in ballots. If you haven't registered, you have until noon on Tuesday to do so at the Yellowstone County Courthouse.