Kearns and Sons RS Aesthetics

Stevensville School District developing long range site plan

By Michael Howell

The Stevensville School District has initiated the process of developing a long range site plan and deferred maintenance program that could provide a roadmap for future repairs, replacements, and additions to the school campus to cope with aging infrastructure and future growth for decades to come. The District has enlisted the services of MMW Architects of Missoula to conduct a series of public meetings as well as meetings with school staff and students in the development of those plans and priorities. About thirty people attended a tour of the school campus and facilities held last week.
According to Superintendent Dr. Bob Moore, the Montana legislature initiated a statewide survey of school facilities that identified millions of dollars in costs for deferred maintenance looming in districts across the state. At that time aging boilers and roof repairs were identified in the Stevensville District.
“We are growing out of room in our K-3 building and the boiler has aged out,” said Moore. He said the boiler situation in K-3 was approaching crisis level. He said they were also just outgrowing the space in the K-3 building as well. The high school’s old boiler system is very inefficient and so is the lighting in the building.
The school district is also experiencing a very high and unexpected growth in special education needs which, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, must be addressed. According to Moore, four years ago the school had four students who needed one-on-one paraprofessional aide while at school. Now there are 12.
“In terms of special education requirements, our percentage of high needs cases is extreme,” said Dr. Moore. He said the high school and the middle school are not prepared for what is coming in that regard.
Moore said that there is a lot more to consider than simply the crisis situations when doing long range planning.
“We are looking at the whole campus, all the facilities and the grounds in this process,” said Dr. Moore. For instance, there are no water or sewer services at the football field or other sports and playground areas. They are also looking at traffic and parking problems. They are looking at everything and they are looking a long way out, maybe 20 to 30 years.
Moore said that the site plan was like a laundry list of to-do items that can be prioritized and used as a guide in future developments that can last through changes in superintendents and in school board members over time. He emphasized that the whole community needed to be involved in identifying these needs and setting some priorities, as well as the staff and the student body.
This is what he hopes to accomplish through a series of meetings between now and the June 12 board meeting when a finished draft of proposed needs and priorities would be presented to the school board including approximate costs of each of the proposed improvements.

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