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Presentation Tuesday on Central School

2013-06-20T00:00:00Z 2013-06-20T18:06:39Z Presentation Tuesday on Central SchoolBy SANJAY TALWANI Independent Record Helena Independent Record
June 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

To rebuild or to rehabilitate Central School — that’s the question the Helena School District Board of Trustees must consider at its July 16 meeting.

The board has already indicated a commitment to reopen Central, but it remains to be seen what it will do to correct structural deficiencies in the school building and how it will pay for it.

On Tuesday the board will hear a presentation by architects from local firm Schlenker and McKitrrick Architects about the options.

Tim Meldrum, a principal with SMA, said the presentation will offer a very unbiased “apples-to-apples” discussion of the options.

That report won’t involve detailed design proposals or budget numbers, but will include and summarize what’s known about the structure and how it can get to the district’s 21st century needs.

“We’re trying to make it informative and fair,” Meldrum said. “We need to make sure that, as a community, we understand every angle.”

The board meeting is Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Ray Bjork Learning Center, 1600 Eighth Ave. It may make a decision on Central at its July 16 meeting, Kultgen said.

Whatever the board decides, it will have to go to the district voters again and seek a bind issue to pay for it. Voters rejected a Building Reserve Levy this spring and will see it on the ballot again this fall, but District Superintendent Kent Kultgen attributes that to a lack of knowledge on what the district planned to do with the money. That spring bond issue, not the Building Reserve Levy, would pay for the Central renovation or rebuild.

“I just didn’t get the information out to the people,” he said.

A clearer picture, bolstered by firm board decisions on where it is heading with Central, could tip the vote, he said.

Engineers this spring found the century-old school building susceptible to severe structural problems in the event of an earthquake, and it was quickly emptied and its operations relocated.

If the voters approve the levy, it would still take three years to complete any work on the school.

So, if everything goes perfectly, Kultgen said, students entering Central for kindergarten this fall — at its temporary location at the Lincoln School — would return to Central in the fall of 2017, for fourth grade.

The district needs to tackle the Central School question before addressing other key issues facing the district, such as the possibility of a middle school in the north Helena Valley to relieve crowding in at C.R. Anderson, the largest middle school in the state.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(2) Comments

  1. CarrollQueer
    Report Abuse
    CarrollQueer - June 20, 2013 4:36 pm
    Yet one more contractor firm being trotted out by Mr Kultgen and John Carter to give yet one more dog and pony show about Central school.
    Lets see ...
    2005, after the earthquake, Morrison Maierle engineering firm was hired, surveyed Central school and found it safe but needed improvements. No work was done as per the recommendations.
    2012 Mosaic was contracted and recommended that Central be closed.
    2012 Mosaic changed their recommendations, based on community input, and now says Central should be brought up to safety standards.
    2013 Mr Kultgen hired his buddy Paul Bishop in January to make engineering estimates. He then fired Bishop in March.
    2013 Beaudette Engineering was contracted in March to evaluate Central school. Based on their recommendations Mr Kultgen and John Carter immediately closed the school.
    2013 CTA Engineering was hired in April and provided a site report and estimates for Central school.
    2013 June, and now Schlenker and McKitrrick has been contracted and will tell us again about Central school.
    Well over one half a million dollars have been frittered away through these contracts, mean while district positions are being eliminated.
    Mr Kultgen and Mr Carter you have no credibility, the levies were voted down and rightfully so.
  2. JoeCitizen
    Report Abuse
    JoeCitizen - June 19, 2013 7:25 pm
    Too bad the Governor's kids don't go to Jim Darcy or Rossitor. Looks like those (and the other schools) will get the short end of the stick while the school that the Governor's kids attends get the lion's share of the attention.

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