Bozeman School Board looks at boundary changes, historic building's future

GALLATIN COUNTY

POSTED: 10:54 PM Feb 11 2013
Bozeman School Boundaries
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

Bozeman School District officials say they need to redraw middle and elementary school boundaries.

"Basically this change will help equalize that a bit" said Deputy Superintendent Steve Johnson, explaining the proposed new middle school boundaries.

He said according to a Boundary Realignment Committee, they need to rebalance the middle school populations. The suggestion? Extend Chief Joseph's boundaries to relieve crowding issues at Sacajawea.

As far as the elementary schools- "we do have to consider where the growth areas will be" Johnson said.

A few options are on the table. Irving Elementary could add students, while overcrowded schools like Emily Dickenson could cut close to 200 kids. Hyalite and Morning Star could lose between 77 and 134 students.  

Under any of the redistricting plans, attendance at Whittier and Hawthorne would stay virtually the same.

"We would like as many kids as possible to attend their attendance area school" Johnson said.

All options call for placing 338 students in the new elementary its first year. The school is still under construction, but is scheduled to open in 2014.

Now that they've heard the options, the Board will hold another discussion during their meeting at the end of February- and this time they want public comments, before receiving a final recommendation on March 4th.

Also on the agenda, board members discussed the future of the historic East Willson school building.

"It's sucking resources that we need to use somewhere else" said Board Vice Chair Wendy Tage. "It needs to get off the books."

Four developers have submitted information on how they'd reuse the building. Board members like Tage said it's time to move forward and get the building out of the school district hands, and into one of the developers.

So they decided to lay out the pros and cons of each project, and choose the best one from there.

"They want to see the building preserved" Tage said.

The Board expects to receive a recommendation on March 4th, the same night as the boundary realignment plan recommendation.