Bozeman school board hires new principal, hears from parents on boundary changes


Bozeman school board hires new principal 2-25-13

BOZEMAN, Mont. - The Bozeman school board meeting Monday night turned emotional, as parents voiced their concerns over new school boundaries. It was part of the latest round of discussions over the issue.

Parents packed the Bozeman school board room to give their two cents to trustees, on the options to realign the district's elementary school boundaries.

"My daughter's in first grade, and it's going to upset her," said one parent. Another parent wasn't in favor, either. "I'd like you to reconsider that decision and not do it," she said.

But other parents said the move needs to happen.

"We understand we need to move, because the overcrowding is more than we can handle," a Painted Hills resident said.

At issue, the district's plans to rearrange elementary school boundaries, in order to alleviate overcrowding at some schools and assign attendance at the new elementary.

The board is considering six redistricting options. Originally there were three, but the district added more. Each has different plans for which areas would switch to which school.

Parents took different sides on which they thought was best.

"For us, option one isn't even possible," said one parent. Another said, "Options five and six -- I would encourage you to look at those."

Some were concerned with the bigger picture. As the district grows, they wonder if this exact situation will keep popping up.

"How can we mitigate so we aren't unnecessarily moving people too many times in the future?" asked a parent, who's also on the boundary realignment committee.

The district listened and asked questions, and says the realignment committee will meet again on Tuesday to take comments into consideration. From there, the board is expected to make a final vote on March 4.

Also on the agenda, hiring the new high school principal.

After interviewing the top four applicants, a hiring committee recommended Kevin Conwell, the current Hamilton High School principal.

The board voted and approved hiring him. Conwell said he is excited to take on the role.

"We're just real excited. We've got about three months to go in Hamilton, and I definitely want to finish strong there and help with the transition process as I leave. And then begin the new transition process here in Bozeman," he said, adding, "Everybody has just been so helpful and I think it's going to go real smooth."

Conwell's first day will be July 1.

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