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Briefs: Yellowstone employee housing; charter school contracts

Yellowstone National Park sign.

$40 million gift to help Yellowstone National Park address its lack of employee housing
Montana Public Radio | By Nick Mott

A $40 million gift will help Yellowstone National Park address its critical need for more employee housing. That’s according to an announcement Thursday from the National Park Foundation (NPF).

Yellowstone employs about 780 people to keep the park running as it faces record visitation numbers. More than 2,500 additional seasonal employees come in as contractors when tourism hits full swing. But cost of living in gateway communities has skyrocketed and demand for vacation rentals has dried up local housing supply around the park.

Will Shafroth, CEO of the NPF, said the need is acute in Yellowstone, but the housing crisis affects national parks across the country.

“These are amazing places and these people are public servants. And, you know, frankly, in my opinion, they deserve a great place to come home to and call home. That's just becoming less and less the case,” Shafroth said.

According to a park report, half of Yellowstone employees make less than $64,000 a year, but homes in gateway towns like Gardiner and West Yellowstone cost about double the national average. The park has identified improving existing housing and adding more supply as a major need as demand for recruiting and retaining employees is higher than ever.

The $40 million gift from NPF will enable the park to build more than 70 new units for employee housing.

State education panel finalizes contracts with 19 new public charter schools set to open in Montana
Montana Public Radio | By Austin Amestoy

A state education panel Thursday finalized contracts with 19 new public charter schools set to open in cities across Montana. The move means most of the schools will be able to enroll students and begin instruction this fall.

State lawmakers last year approved the creation of the charters, which are tied to existing school districts and must follow all state education policies. Administrators pitched the schools as offering new education models for students. Those include arts-focused instruction, career training, online-only learning and more.

A separate law proposing a publicly-funded system of charter schools that would not have to follow some state education rules remains tied up in court.

The 18 public charter schools set to open this fall are:

The contract for one approved school, Bozeman Charter School, will take effect in July 2025 after administrators requested a delay.

Nick Mott is a reporter and podcast producer based in Livingston, Montana.
Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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