Rural school expansion coming none too soon

By ADAM SCHREUDER/Montana State News

The Monforton School  overflowing with students and conducting classes in hallways and outdated asbestos-filled classrooms. Luckily, a $7.1 million bond was approved in late 2015 that will fund the construction of a 30,000 square foot building with a capacity for180 students.

The bond campaign pamphlet includes a rendering of the proposed building, which will be erected a short distance away from the Four Corners area school on top of a nearby hill.  Unlike before, the sixth through eighth grades will take place in this new location, effectively separating them from the elementary-aged students.

Monforton math teacher Megan Brodston elaborated on why it’s a good idea to separate these age groups.

“There are behaviors—and language—that the middle school kids display in front of the younger kids that isn’t necessarily appropriate,” she said.  “When you mix ages in the hallways, it’s difficult to draw that line fairly for everyone.”

Aside from fairness issues, a KBZK interview with superintendent Darren Strauch from September of last year revealed that student enrollment is over capacity by at least five students.  Brodston claims that this number has more than quadrupled since that interview, with no signs of slowing in the foreseeable future.

The investment information section of the bond pamphlet breaks down the costs required to pay debt service of $7.1 million; for the average homeowner in Bozeman, Monforton’s new middle school will cost an additional $13 per month, totaling to $156 annually. The Monforton School website states that construction is scheduled to begin spring of 2016.

Although such a large bond initially did not garner much public support, Strauch said that Bozeman residents are aware of the increasing growth and that the need for a new middle school building “comes as no surprise”; the final vote count was 521 for and 307 against.

– Edited by Jack Seeger

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