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Tuhy leads her Head Start class toward the playground at Bonner School for outdoor activities and playtime. 

BONNER – Construction projects at Bonner School that were part of a $346,000 bond passed by voters in May have been delayed slightly and are now scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

School trustee Ryan Ludemann said the resignation of Bonner’s superintendent delayed the construction project, which was originally planned for completion over the summer.

The work includes an expansion of the cafeteria space at the school, as well as reorienting the main office to face the entrance of the school.

On July 22, the school district’s board of trustees ratified a two-year-contract for its new superintendent, Jim Howard.

Howard, who comes to the school from Campbell County School District in Gillette, Wyoming, replaces former superintendent Doug Ardiana, who resigned in June.

School officials say the projects will help relieve cafeteria crowding and improve overall campus safety.

The plans for a new cafeteria will add an additional 1,600 square feet of space to the existing 1,318-square-foot cafeteria. The current space serves 360 students every day, and provides more than 64,000 lunches each year.

The changes to the main office mean that school staff will be able to see visitors as they enter the front doors, the only entrance that is unlocked during the school day.

Ludemann said the design plans are currently being completed, after which they will be sent to the county for permit approval.

“Our hope is to do deconstruction and have asphalt removed and the loudest parts of construction before school starts,” he said.

That should mean less sound while work continues during the school year, Ludemann added. Students will continue to use the current cafeteria space until the new one is completed, then move over to using it while renovations are done to the old space.

“Hopefully, by the end of Christmas break and the start of January we’ll have it all finished up,” he said.

Bonner Principal Ashley Parks said the school is fortunate that construction from the bond can be accomplished during the school year.

“It’s an expansion, not just a replacement,” she said.

The bond’s passage means property owners will see an additional $5.25 in taxes per year on a home valued at $100,000 over the measure’s 15-year term.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.