A PROACTIVE APPROACH TO SCHOOL GROWTH

Big Sky School District seeks $23.5 million bond

On May 5, voters decide on a $23.5 million school bond that should nicely position the Big Sky School District (BSSD) for the next 10 years of growth. “Our obligation [to educate students] is too important to be reactive all the time,” BSSD superintendent Dustin Shipman said.

Based on historical data, BSSD will likely see five percent growth annually, he said. “If we go back five-plus years we are averaging five percent, if we go back two-three years it is two and a half to three percent. So, yes, we expect those numbers, especially with more and more development,” BSSD business manager Corky Miller said.

The facilities expansion will not only accommodate student growth but will also increase learning opportunities for BSSD students and the greater community.

“I can say with 100% certainty we are the only Class C school, and soon to be Class B school, that does not have the capability for kids to take what I would consider to be a proper STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) class or a CTE (career in technical education) class,” Shipman said. “We have one class and in that class we are really limited in the tools we can use exclusively by facility.”

Kids could really be creative, he noted. And, the facility would allow for additional community involvement. “This is a very common thing now – more and more adult education and the community using those facilities, maybe even as a tech incubator,” Shipman said. “The board really sees this as an additional way to partner with the community.”

The money

Shipman acknowledges that $23.5 million sounds like a large number. However, spread over time, with an increasing tax base and the fact that the school district is at a low debt point, it means the tax implications for taxpayers will be marginal. “On an individual basis over an extended period of time, it is not massive to anybody,” Miller said.

A million dollar home, for example, will be taxed $55.50 a month, Shipman explained. “There is going to be a spike for a couple of years should it pass, but then we start to drop back off, even at its spike it would be less than it was two years ago,” Shipman said.

Athletics

Soccer just became an official LPHS sport. “Big Sky does not have a full size soccer field,” Miller said. “The Community Park is close, but it’s not large enough. So, that was part of the goal – was to have a full size field.”

The lack of a regulation size field in the community equals lots of time on the road for students that want to embrace the world’s most popular sport.

The plan is to create a multi- sport pitch that could accommodate American football and soccer. This would then give Big Sky kids the opportunity to both practice and play home games on campus, Shipman explained. BSSD is anticipated to be moving into Class B by 2021, thanks to student growth. Class B communities typically bring anywhere from 300-500 people on the road, he said.

Safety

Allowing Big Sky kids to practice and play in the community will lessen road travel. Also, the new design will create smoother traffic flow through the BSSD campus, which will also benefit student safety, Shipman said.

Public presentations regarding bond

March 10: Informational meeting, WMPAC @ 6 p.m. March 17: Informational meeting, OES library @ 5 p.m. March 25: Informational meeting, OES library @ 7 p.m. March 30: Informational meeting, OES library @ 6 p.m. April 9: Informational meeting, OES library @ 5 p.m. April 21: Informational meeting, WMPAC @ 6 p.m. April 28: Last informational meeting, WMPAC @ 7 p.m.

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