Laurel School District: Reality and response

By: 
Supt. Dr. Linda Filpula
Superintendent, Laurel Public Schools

Laurel School District is the 10th largest school district in the state with a current K-12 enrollment of approximately 2,100 students. With subdivisions and housing projects being built in Laurel and the expansion of the Billings West End, it is a reasonable assumption that our community and student enrollment will continue to grow and expand. A population and enrollment forecast completed in 2013 by McKibben Demographic Research predicted an enrollment of 2,048 students for the 2022-23 school year. We have already exceeded the 10-year forecast.
Currently, all buildings are out of space. All three elementary schools have modular buildings to address the overcrowding. Class size at the middle school and high school are pushing and exceeding 30 students which is the maximum allowed by accreditation standards. Teachers are sharing rooms and space to accommodate all of the classes. Laurel Middle School was designed to hold 600 students and started this school year with 702 students – up 20 students from last year. As these 700 students move into the Laurel High School in the next four years, it is possible our high school enrollment could reach 800 students. It is essential the district and community plan for this growth to continue providing a high quality education to our youth while also being fiscally responsible.
To address the overcrowding and other educational needs, the district embarked on an 18-month process to identify needs and design a comprehensive, long-term plan that would serve the students and community. With community input, the following needs were identified: overcrowding in all buildings, educational opportunities, deferred maintenance, and district growth. Based on these needs, an Educational Master Plan was developed to guide the district for the next 20 years. The committee focused on maximizing current resources by repurposing existing facilities to meet the educational needs of students. Buildings and school sites will have the ability to add additional classrooms and learning space in the future if needed. Through intentional and purposeful planning, the district can be fiscally responsible with taxpayer funds by being proactive rather than reactive.
On Nov 7, 2017, a bond election will be held to determine if the Laurel School District will move forward with this plan. Please educate yourself about the educational issues and facility needs of the district. Information regarding these issues can be found on the homepage of the district website at www.laurel.k12.mt.us. You can also contact me directly at 628-3356 with any questions.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to become informed on this important issue.

Upcoming Events

Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Fourth Tuesdays, 7 p.m., Eagles Hall, 313 W. Main, 628-4503
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., check www.laurelexchangeclub.org for more info. Find them on Facebook www.facebook.com/laurelexchangeclub . Email them to find out meeting time and to join: clubinfo@laurelexchangeclub.org The club will have a meeting or volunteer activity. Meeting location is Sid's East Side Bar & Grill on first and third Wednesdays of each month. Members and guests eat free.  Volunteer activity on the second Wednesday of each month. Check their facebook page for updates.  Every fourth Wednesday is for a club social activity. 
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Tuesdays, Noon, Beartooth Grill, 305 1st Ave. S.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
10 a.m., Laurel Public Library, 720 West Third Street, Laurel, 628-4961

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