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MCPS administration building

The Missoula County Public Schools’ administration building on South Sixth Street West

Students at Franklin and Lowell elementary schools will be starting the year in their completed buildings as the two Missoula County Public Schools 2020 bond projects near completion.

At the Missoula County Public Schools board of trustees meeting Tuesday night, the board members were given an update on the Smart Schools 2020 bond project. While finalized budgets for two completed projects will not be presented to the board until late September, Burley McWilliams, operations and maintenance supervisor for the district, was able to give a general overview.  

Missoula voters approved a bond levy in November 2015 that secured about $158 million to renovate elementary and high school buildings in the district. The Smart Schools 2020 bond was meant to upgrade the schools technological capabilities as well as modernize school designs. The elementary school district projects were budgeted to cost about $88 million with the high school projects budgeted at $70 million.

This summer, the Franklin and Lowell schools are expected to be complete and students will be starting the year in brand new buildings. Once the finishing touches are done, the school district is planning on holding open houses at the two schools on Thursday, Aug. 24. The final costs of the projects will be presented to the school board in September, said Hatton Littman, director of technology and communications for the district.

Multiple other projects are ongoing, including everything from small changes, like a new school sign being installed at Chief Charlo Elementary school, to entire new buildings, like the Cold Springs school and Willard Alternative High School demolition.

In the elementary school district, site prep for the building additions to Russell school is set to begin in September. The roofing projects for Hawthorne and C.S. Porter are already underway. Rattlesnake is also getting a new school sign installed as well as additional landscaping. At Washington, construction for the school’s expansion has started.

For the high school district, Hellgate’s construction is underway, though in June it was unclear the school's budget projections would be the same as what was stated in the bond language. Littman did not have an update on that budget when asked about it Monday.

After several community meetings, Willard Alternative High School’s demolition and rebuild plan is scheduled to begin in September, though some community members have voiced intent to try to stop the demolition of the building. Sentinel redesign has also begun.

The Seeley-Swan High School project was completed in April. Big Sky High School had a roofing project completed in the summer of 2016.

With students returning to Franklin and Lowell, all students will be at their home schools this year, Littman said.

Details about all the planned renovations and school projects can be found at mcpsmt.org.

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