BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Montana State University Faculty Senate is considering a proposal to create a dental school in Bozeman.

Faculty members will vote on the issue later this month and if they approve, it would go to the Montana Board of Regents for consideration, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle (http://bit.ly/2wcivFr) reports.

Dr. Kathy Jutila, director of MSU’s Division of Health Sciences, told the Faculty Senate on Wednesday that the costs would be reasonable and the need for dentists in Montana is great. Eleven of Montana’s 56 counties have no dentists while 80 percent of all dentists work in nine urban counties, Jutila said.

The dental school would work like the WWAMI program, which trains medical doctors in Montana, Wyoming, Alaska and Idaho in cooperation with the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. UW also has a School of Dentistry which has a program to serve rural areas of Washington state.

If the Regents approve the proposal the program could start applying for grants. MSU spokesman Tracy Ellig said it would also need the Legislature to appropriate Monday. Lawmakers don’t meet again until 2019.

The proposal calls for accepting eight students a year for the four-year program, so up to 32 students would be in training at a time. The first year they would study with WWAMI medical students at Bozeman Health hospital. The second year they’d go to UW’s Regional Initiatives in Dental Education school in Spokane, Washington. The third year would be in Seattle at UW’s dental school, followed by a fourth year of rotations and training in rural areas of Montana.

Upfront costs would include creating a dental simulation lab at Bozeman Health hospital and hiring a director, administrator, computer specialist and three or four part-time dentists as faculty members.