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Top 10: School Consolidation

School board trustee Aidan Myhre listens

to Superintendent Kent Kultgen during a school bond meeting in 2014.

Details of a possible elementary school bond is the planned topic of a Helena Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m. in the Ray Bjork Learning Center.

The full board will be hearing two proposals developed by the three-member Facility Committee that has been meeting since September.

Both proposals will only be for elementary schools during the first bond election, with a plan for future bonds to build two new high schools and remodel the middle schools.

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The ultimate vision includes plans to move middle schools students into the old high schools, consolidate Central and Bryant elementaries into the Helena Middle Schools campus and consolidate Kessler and Hawthorne into the C.R. Anderson campus.

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The first elementary proposal is similar to one put forward at the Jan. 6 board meeting and includes a new Jim Darcy, mostly-new Smith, renovations at Broadwater, Kessler, Hawthorne and Bryant, plus additions and renovations at Rossiter, Jefferson, Warren and Four Georgians. This proposal includes three options for Central School: sell the building and distribute the student population to other schools, seismically upgrade and renovate the building for $7.8 million or house the Central students at the Ray Bjork campus until the HMS renovation is complete.

At its Jan. 20 meeting, the Facility Committee renewed an idea to build a school with enough capacity for 450 to 500 students at the Central site. The expense of that option resulted in Superintendent Kent Kultgen developing a new plan which the board will discuss in detail at tonight’s meeting.

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Alexander Deedy can be reached at 447-4081 or alexander.deedy@helenair.com

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