Whitefish voters being asked to replace aging elementary school - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Whitefish voters being asked to replace aging elementary school

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WHITEFISH - Whitefish voters have the choice next month to approve a new $26.5 million bond request to build a brand new elementary school to replace the current Muldown Elementary School -- which is more than 50 years old.

The Whitefish School District is asking their residents to help the community grow by fulfilling the need for a new elementary school on the Oct.3 ballot.

“Schools cost our taxpayers a lot of money but they’re an incredible investment for our community and we appreciate the Whitefish community's investment in our schools, they’ve always been very supportive and generous," Whitefish Schools Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt said.

The existing school currently has a number of issues.

“It kind of looks like a coffee stain and that’s from all the leakage from up there and over there snow kept on falling through the roof because it started melting and as you saw in the video it kept on flooding," said a 4th grader leading a tour of the school.

The heating system is 50 years old, the roof cannot support snow loads and the school is overcrowded creating congestion in the narrow hallways. There's also a pressing need for more classroom space. 

There are also frequent leaks and drastic temperature changes and all of these issues directly affect the students and their ability to learn and grow.

“It can be really disruptive to the learning environment and also creating comfortable spaces for students in a variety of ways so that they can learn more effectively really makes a difference in the long term for our kids," Davis Schmidt said.

If the $26.5 million bond request were to be approved, the new school would be built about 100 yards away from the old one and would take about 30 months to complete.

The committee took a look at multiple different approaches to the situation before arriving at the decision to build a new school taking into account the tax payers and the students.

“We thought it would be effective to fix the Muldown that is there turns out that the costs for that are far too great and it makes much more economical sense and it’s much better value to our taxpayers as well as being the least disruptive to our students if we go with a new school," Davis Schmidt said.

The Muldown Elementary School in Whitefish was erected in 1966 and since then has only seen one renovation done and that was in 1992. The ballot will be sent out in the mail on September 15th. 

CORRECTION: A prior headline mistakenly referred to the school as a middle school and a quote in the fifth paragraph was mistakenly attributed to Davis Schmidt. KPAX regrets the error.

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