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Lolo voters will decide on $10.5 million school bond

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Sep 06 2013 07:01:38 PM MDT
Updated On: Sep 06 2013 10:50:33 PM MDT

The mail in ballot asks voters for approval to build new K through 4 building.

MISSOULA, Mont. -

Voters in Lolo will decide soon whether to build a new kindergarten through 4th grade elementary school on the east side of town.

The mail in ballot asks 2,800 registered voters to approve a $10.5 million bond request.

The 20-year bonds would fund the school, a gym, a library and an expanded food service area.

If you own a $200,000 house it will cost you $249.50 cents a year. Calculations for a $100,000 house are $124.75 a year.

There are 615 students at Lolo Elementary on the hillside campus west of town. The district said that's too many kids for too little space.

"We're into about as many closets as we can get into," said Superintendent Mike Magone.

The new school would be built on 20 acres of school owned property east of town.

It would accommodate 350 kindergarten through fourth graders.

That would give 5th through 8th grade students on the current campus a lot more elbow room.

"We're potentially going to grow by another hundred students over the next 10 years," said Magone,"We also know what the lower building is worn out."

That lower building is among many buildings on campus. Part of it was built in 1905. The district said it is antiquated and doesn't meet Americans with Disabilities standards. If a new school is built it would be demolished or used for storage.

Lunch time is limited to 10 minutes per student.

The district said there's growing demand for services that requires more one on one time.

Tracy and Mike McMillan have a first grader.

"It's going to be necessary at some point," (to build a new school) said Mike, "we might as well do it now."

The Lolo School District said if the new school is approved, the 20 acres it would be built on gives the community the flexibility to eventually relocate the entire K through 8 school here.

Many people are low income in Lolo. Many are on fixed incomes.

Some taxpayers said the school is asking for a lot of money.

It's taxes piling up, said some residents.

"It's not just the school," said 35-year Lolo resident, Marge Cramer, "it's everything that goes up so it ends up being more than just $250 a year."

A couple people said they just couldn't afford the bill.

One woman said she thinks the school is necessary.

But it will cost me money, she said, "I'm still trying to decide how to vote."

Ballots will be mailed on September 12 and must be received back by October 1.