STEVENSVILLE - If there was a take-home message for parents and other members of the Stevensville schools community on Wednesday evening it was something akin to "hang on to your hats."
School district Superintendent Kent Kultgen told a community gathering that construction plans on two new buildings will be accelerated because the district is required to spend funds from an $828,000 state grant by next summer.
"This is going to be an exciting time," Kultgen said, after Paradigm Architects of Missoula showed a movie with a 3-D rendering of the 25-classroom, 52,000-square-foot schoolhouse for grades four through eight.
The sped-up construction schedule will mean longer school days, a shortened school year and some displacement of classrooms, according to Kultgen.
In total, the project is penciled out to the tune of $9.7 million, much of which will go into the local economy, according to building consultant Paul Bishop of Construction Solutions.
The work will begin in earnest in July, though crews will begin putting up fencing and laying out the construction zone starting next week.
The contracts for the first phase of the work, including demolition, dirt work, concrete and placement of utilities, were all awarded to local companies, according to Scott Bruner of Swank Enterprises, who will be construction manager on the project.
Phase two bidding begins June 17.
The new buildings will replace the 1901 junior high building and the 1924 fourth through sixth grade building. Voters passed an $8.8 million bond last fall to pay for the classroom building and the Montana Department of Commerce awarded an $880,000 Quality Schools grant to go toward the multipurpose facility.
Kultgen said as the job of constructing buildings overlaps with the job of teaching children, some adjustments well likely be needed once administrators and teachers see how everything plays out - the key will be having some patience.
"Our track record shows that we are going to have do something that will last for 110 years," Kultgen said. "So we're trying to do it right ... The main thing to focus on is, what a fantastic time for our community and our kids."
Reporter Sepp Jannotta can be reached at 363-3300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.