NewsMissoula County


Lolo School officials propose bond for new school

Lolo School
Posted at 11:42 AM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 20:44:47-04

LOLO — Lolo School officials announced on Friday that residents will find ballots in the mail for two proposals; to build a new elementary school, the other to sell the current school property.

Lolo School Superintendent Dale Olinger says the district is asking residents to support a $22.1 million bond to build a new K-8 school.

Also on the ballot, they will ask the board of trustees to sell the current school property to help offset bond costs and site improvements for the new school.

“Lolo needs a safe, efficient school for students that echoes the commitment of its teachers and staff. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to sell some prime real estate as part of the master plan,” Olinger said.

He added that they are learning from past experiences in late 2012 and early 2013, when the Lolo community narrowly rejected a proposal for a new K-4 building.

Olinger said at the time, the school was limited to 20-year bond terms and the bond capacity was too little for a full K-8 school.

He notes that thanks to legislative changes in 2017 and 2019 the Board is now authorized to ask for financing to build the full K-8 and spread the cost over 30 years to reduce annual payments.

Additionally, since the whole school could move, a property sale is now part of the equation.

“This project is a direct response to what our community has asked for over the years -- a safe and accessible K-8 school under one roof, off the highway, and with measures to keep costs as low as possible," Lolo School Board Chair Jennifer Hickes noted.

"We ask that Lolo consider the benefits of a new school and sale of the old school to offset the costs," she continued.

The current Lolo School campus is currently made of six buildings and according to Olinger faces millions of dollars of maintenance and renovation to make it a more appropriate school setting.

The current hillside location presents inherent challenges for access, safety, and efficiency.

A Q&A session is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Lolo Community Center. Lolo voters are encouraged to return their ballots by Sept. 22.

Click here for additional information on the proposal.