MISSOULA – While Missoula County Public Schools will spend this winter and spring analyzing possible adjustments in boundaries for the city’s elementary schools, any changes for middle and high school boundaries are likely at least two years away.
MCPS trustees approved looking at possible boundary adjustments on Tuesday night now that all of the elementary school construction under the Smart Schools 2020 bond is wrapping up. But MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane isn’t expecting the same review for older students for another year.
“Part of what will happen is, we’ll establish new elementary boundaries and then a likely outcome would be, how do those boundaries impact what we consider with regard to middle schools,” Thane said.
While elementary school construction is moving into the final phase across the district, buildings like Meadow Hill, C.S. Porter, Sentinel and Big Sky are under construction, or about to be.
Thane says that creates disruption, and it would be tough to work out final capacities in the buildings until the work is done, and the new elementary boundaries are set.
He says the district and its advisory committee would also have to address the question of whether older students would be “grandfathered” in, or allowed to stay at their present school until they graduate.
“So, I think just the dynamic is going to be a bit challenging initially. And I think to add the complexity of looking at all three levels at a single time might cause us to be distracted from our singular purpose initially right now addressing the capacity issues that we’re feeling in the elementary buildings,” Thane said.
Under the scenario presented Tuesday night, new elementary boundaries could take effect as soon as next fall, with study of middle school and high school boundaries in next school year, and implementation of any changes for the older students later in 2020.