The Whitefish School District Board of Trustees voted unanimously at their May 9 regular board meeting to approve a bond initiative of $26.5 million to be put before the Whitefish School District voters in order to build a new Muldown Elementary School. The bond vote is scheduled for October 3, 2017.
"I appreciate the work of the Muldown Community Task Force over the last 18 months to carefully study the issues and recommend to the board the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars for the long term," said Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt.
From 16 different options studied, last month the Muldown Taskforce recommended rebuilding Muldown Elementary School as the best option for addressing the critical upgrades needed at the school. Muldown is the largest elementary school in Montana, currently serving approximately 670 students in grades K-4.
Muldown was built in 1966, with a major renovation completed in 1992.
But for the past 25 years, the board says, the school has remained relatively unchanged and is now overcrowded and faces major structural issues.
Issues they brought up are the 50-year-old heating system, which is failing and roof trusses that cannot adequately support snow loads. Additionally the added in their release that many parts of the building lack insulation and vapor barriers, and there are frequent leaks and drastic temperature fluctuations.
The new school would be about 84,000 square feet and could house up to 756 students. For every $100,000 in taxable value (not market value), homeowners could anticipate an annual property tax increase of approximately $65.
The bond initiative would fund the construction of a new school just south of the high school, while saving the functional areas of the old school for future use.
Rather than reconstruction and additions to the current school, the task force felt that building a new school was the most fiscally prudent option, creating a more efficient use of space, a more energy efficient and eco-friendly building, and offered better opportunities to enhance innovative learning.
"The task force felt that we can spend taxpayer dollars most wisely by creating a new learning environment built to modern standards, minimizing huge disruptions in the process," said Davis Schmidt. "Tax payer impact was paramount as the taskforce looked at addressing the critical issues with an eye to the future. The unanimous support of the board indicates that we are traveling in the right direction."
For more information, visit www.whitefishschools.org.