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Lowell bond

Architect Steve L'Heureux shows a group of Lowell Elementary School staff, MCPS administration and Lowell education innovation team members early concept designs for a complete remodel and expansion of the school. If the $88 million elementary bond passes, Lowell would use $11.4 million to renovate its 1909 building.

Missoula County Public Schools trustees met Tuesday night for the final time before the Nov. 3 election, when voters will decide the fate of the district’s $70 million high school and $88 million elementary school bond requests.

Superintendent Mark Thane gave brief updates on the bond issues, including a review of initial design meetings held with Great Falls architecture firm L’Heureux Page Werner to discuss projects planned at Lowell and Franklin schools if the elementary bond passes.

Franklin would be completely rebuilt, while Lowell would undergo significant remodeling and expansion. LPW was hired to create initial concept drawings and potentials layouts for the buildings.

“The general consensus is those were both very well received,” Thane said Tuesday.

He said the district is also working to determine a site for the new Cold Springs Elementary School, another major bond-funded project.

A majority of the students who go to the school live in the Linda Vista, Maloney Ranch and Lower Miller Creek areas, so the district is considering rebuilding the school at a site within walking and biking distance of those students.

Trustee Korbin Bragstad asked when a decision was likely to be made.

“I wish I could answer that question,” Thane said. “We’ve identified a couple of properties, but part of it is a negotiations process, and that’s a slow process at the present time.”

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The board also approved a series of technology purchases for MCPS, including a five-year, $133,000 contract for a new system to configure, deploy and track computers in the district, among other functions.

MCPS representatives said the new system will be up to 10 times faster than the current system.

Trustees also approved the purchase of more than $528,000 in computers, laptops and Chromebook laptops. Funding for the technology purchases comes primarily from the district’s technology levy.

As it regularly does, the board received updates on the MCPS general fund and building fund.

Burley McWilliams, operations and maintenance supervisor, reminded the board that the district’s sole elementary building reserve levy will expire in June of 2016, and the high school building reserve levy in 2018.

If the bonds pass, the district won't ask voters to renew either levy, and will instead use funds stockpiled in its building reserve fund and other income sources to cover daily and yearly maintenance costs for a few years.

After the meeting ended, the board went into a closed executive session to discuss “litigation strategy,” but did not disclose the nature of any pending or potential litigation.

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