With portions of the school dating from 1914, Gallatin Gateway School is asking for input on a long-awaited renovation and construction project.
As part of the school’s bond process, it will hold an open house for Gallatin Gateway School District residents to provide feedback on design plans and project budget on Tuesday from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“We have a wide range of additions on our building, and they’re aging,” said Theresa Keel, superintendent of the district. “We’ve done a great job of keeping the systems running but it’s getting to the point where maintenance has gotten more expensive than a renovation.”
Keel said the K-8 school plans to update the heating, ventilation, electrical and air-condition systems. She added parts of the building also flood during heavy rains and half of the schoolhouse built in 1914 is unsuitable for classrooms.
“We’re making sure the community is on board, and we’re listening to them on what they want to see happen,” she said.
The open house will be held in person. To maintain social distancing, people will meet outside of the building for an overview and then rotate through four information stations in small groups of 25 or less.
The public meeting is part of the district’s ongoing bond process, started in January 2019. In March of this year, the school board selected Cushing Terrell/Martel as its design and build team.
The previous bond in the district passed in 1999 for just over $1 million, Keel said.
That money allowed the school to build an addition to the school that allowed it to have one classroom per grade level and office space. On average, the school enrolls about 170 students, a single class of students for each grade.
“Our last bond will be paid off this year so we think it’s a good time to go out for a new one,” she said.
Keel said the district is considering renovation of the building, construction of a new building or a hybrid of both.
“Our bonding capacity is at $7 million,” she said. “So we have some financial limitations on what the bond can do.”
Keel said that with different options at different prices it was important for residents to show up for the event and offer feedback on the potential designs.
Following Tuesday’s open house, the district will send a survey to residents and will present a renovation plan to the school board for approval in November. The board will need to finalize the bond plan by the end of November to be on the February 2021 ballot.
While the coronavirus pandemic has not had a direct impact on the school’s renovation plans, Keel said it has made it harder to get public participation with virtual Zoom meetings.
“We are really desiring all of our taxpayers to attend the meeting on Tuesday because their input is valuable,” she said. “We understand the financial impact that this does to individual people when we go out for a school bond and we want to use their money wisely.”