Designing the next phase

Community input guides design of school expansion

Burgeoning numbers are the trend in Big Sky and the school is no exception. 

The rapid growth of Lone Peak High School (LPHS) means the school is likely to transition from a Class C to a Class B school by 2021. By Fall of 2020 – even if nothing changes – the high school will see a 79% increase in population from 2015, according to Superintendent Dustin Shipman.

The Big Sky School District board commissioned A&E Architects to work with 40 demographically diverse community members and try to come up with a plan for school facilities to accommodate growth.The group had four meetings, helped create a site plan and expressed their highest priorities. 

Those priorities include: to create and increase program opportunities for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM); provide community access and adult education spaces; accommodate student growth for 10+ years; meet the space needs for a Class B transition; increase community engagement – like an indoor and outdoor walking track as well as better parking and site circulation for student safety and access. 

“It’s just very reflective of what everybody has been talking about for five years. I think it’s a really nice presentation of what we have wanted to do,” board trustee Whitney Littman said. “At this point in our school’s development it’s really the right time to get the facilities current.”   

The plan outlines increased parking, flex breakout spaces or areas beyond the classrooms for learning, collaboration zones to allow for different classrooms to work together, a gym expansion, an opening-up of the cafeteria, and the list goes on. 

“The quality of the indoor space for high schoolers and middle schoolers with all those flex learning labs… that ability – where they can work in groups and they are not just sitting, lined up in the hallway. It’s not only expanding our capacity and who we can serve, it’s also increasing the quality,” Ciara Wolfe, CEO of Big Sky Community Organization said. 

The analysis, discovery, visioning, and community involvement phases are now complete and findings were presented to the board at its recent meeting.

“No solution here today, but looking at ideas,” project manager Brad Dall with A&E Architects said. “We are not successful if it is not a reflection of Big Sky and your needs.” 

STEAM access was notably lacking when comparing Big Sky to schools across the state, Dall said. 

BSSD board chair Loren Bough agreed and noted that it is interesting the community is asking for the gap to be addressed. 

If all goes according to plan, the school will be set-up for collegiate level learning, Dall said.

The next meeting on Feb. 18 will have cost projections so the board can have some ideas of the financials of the project. 

If they decide to move forward, there will likely be an additional meeting in February to finalize ballot language.

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