Plains Elementary School Gets $1.15 Million for Expansion - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Plains Elementary School Gets $1.15 Million for Expansion

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Plains Elementary School is awarded more than $1 million to build a six classroom addition.

It takes a daily walk across Highway 200 for some of the students and staff at Plains Elementary to get between the two campuses, not only bringing up safety concerns for school officials, but also taking time away from the education of students.

"Time was always an issue. So much time was wasted getting kids ready for cold weather," said Plains Elementary kindergarten teacher, Dana Diehl.

Diehl said this is just one of the many draw-backs of having a split campus. The elementary school is separated into two buildings, fifth and sixth grades are located in Wild Horse Elementary, while the lower grades are located at the main elementary school building.

"Of course then that led to transporting students, so that meant 20 to 30 minutes were lost per day," Diehl said.

This makes it harder for fifth and sixth graders to have access to services like the library, cafeteria, and extracurricular activities.

"No matter what we did, we had to have some students off campus," Diehl said.

Soon, this problem will be solved. Governor Steve Bullock on Tuesday announced the school is awarded a $1.15 million grant to expand the main campus with a building that houses six classrooms, and a few additional offices.

"It completes plans this community has had for almost forty or fifty years," said Plains Schools Superintendent Tom Chisholm.

Chisholm said the school started applying for the grant from the department of commerce six or seven years ago. The grant was finally approved in the last legislative session.

"The grant had different means to apply for, so instead of a safety issue, we went with educational enhancement issue," Chisholm said.

Title One Special Education teacher, Gena Ferlan, said this will make a huge change, for the better, for the children she teaches.

"Just that educational piece is going to be huge, and the kids will see familiar faces when the come back to class each year," Ferlan said.

School officials hope to break ground in April, with hopes of using the new building by next August.

More information on the grant funding this project can be accessed through the Department of Commerce Montana Quality Schools Program at 406-841-2770 or

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