Stevensville Schools see bonds as means to “future proof” facilities and learning

Posted at 9:30 AM, Apr 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-25 12:20:29-04

STEVENSVILLE – If Stevensville voters approve a pair of bond issues on May 7, school district leaders say it will be a major step forward in fixing facilities, some of which date back 60-years.

But at the same time, the 20-year proposals have also been designed with future learning in mind, preparing students for the changes they’re going to see in their lifetimes.

The ballots are now in the hands of voters for two bond packages proposed by the Stevensville School District.

There’s a $6.3 million elementary school bond and $14.1 million high school bond. The proposals were pared down after the district did extensive surveys following narrow rejection of a bond package a year ago.

The result? Bonds that are geared specifically to fix an aging infrastructure at the high school and elementary school, adding modern security measures like cameras and reconfigured more secure entryways.

Boilers, lighting and other systems desperately in need of an update will be retrofitted. Parking and the hectic traffic pattern will be made safer.

But the proposals also take future learning into account.

Stevensville has a long history of agriculture in the Bitterroot Valley and the bond issue would allow that legacy of learning to continue — and would expand upon it with a new technology center.

The proposed technology center would be specifically geared to the current, and coming, job market.

“We need to be providing students training but not just agricultural. There are technical trades as well as there are construction trades,” said Stevensville Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Moore.

“All [are] viable, entry-level jobs for students to leave this school, go out into our community and work for employers in the community. And hopefully, stay in our community and make this an economically viable option for families.”

“It can be anything from home construction. it could be concrete work, it could be metal work. It could be the computer trades,” Dr. Moore continued.

He notes the bonds were specifically honed to meet the community’s objectives. And if you want to see for yourself, the district has made it easy to see specifically how your taxes would be impacted.

“We’ve put calculators out there on our websites so members of our community, homeowners, agricultural landowners, can go on to the Cadasteral website, look up their property market values as assessed by the county,” Dr. Moore told MTN News. “They can plug those values into calculator and determine what the tax load will be.”

Thanks to the growth now in the Bitterroot and a previous bond set to expire soon, there’s expectation that the overall cost will be spread out further in the years to come.

“As the area grows and hopefully taxable value for the county goes up, that load gets dispersed across more property owners. And hopefully, that bond amount on a yearly basis will go down,” Dr. Moore said.

Because Stevensville is a consolidated school district, the high school bond will be voted by taxpayers across the district, including Lonerock and the Three Mile area. But the elementary bond is only on the ballot in Stevensville.

Click here for more information on the two bonds that appear on the May 7 ballot.