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School enrollment to outgrow buildings

Published On: Nov 06 2013 09:46:36 PM MST   Updated On: Nov 06 2013 10:50:38 PM MST
School enrollment to outgrow buildings

Public schools in Missoula are expected to grow by an additional 350 students by 2017, 900 additional students by 2023.

Administrators and planners are meeting with community member to plan for the buildings that will be needed.  Administrators say most current buildings are 50 to 100 years old and require significant work.  

Nick Salmon, a professional planner, told NBC Montana, "The work that we're doing is rooted in education first and then rooted in facilities in some cases its actually using the exact same amount of space  in a building and using it differently."

The community is exploring a range of options to recommend to trustees, who will have the final say.

This week's meetings are in the second phase of the public feedback process.

Another round of meetings will be held December 2nd through 6th.  

The following is a detailed release and schedule of meetings from Missoula County Public Schools.

MCPS Facilities Strategic Planning Process: Need uncovered for new facilities

NOVEMBER 6TH 6:30-8:00 pm at the broadway inn hotel and conference center

Missoula County Public Schools moves into the second full week of workshops aimed at creating a comprehensive 15-year plan for all school and administrative buildings. Over 120 community members, teachers, and students on Education Innovation Teams for each school will meet in working sessions from November 4-11, 2013 at the Broadway Inn Hotel and Conference Center at 1609 West Broadway, Missoula. An open evening Community Listening Session will take place on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at the same location. This week of sessions in November represents the second in a series of three weeks of workshops that make up the Facilities Strategic Planning Process.

By the 2017-18 school year, the District will have close to 200 more elementary school students, over 100 more middle school students and almost 30 more high schools students. Looking ahead, by the 2023-24 school year, the District is expected to grow by more than 890 students K-12 over what we have in the 2013-14 school year. Added to that, most district buildings are 50 - 100 years old and need significant work to bring them up to standards.

"This is an open community process involving public comment at every stage. In the past the community has endured school closure and restructuring processes that were perceived as selective and excluded the community. This process is wide open for discussion and what we really need now is to have people engage in discussion. The community process is designed to work and incorporate community feedback", ensures Hatton Littman, Director of Technology and Communications.

Talk about what we are doing that is far different

The first phase of public meetings were held October 7-11 and more will follow November 4-8 and December 2-6, 2013. Insights and guiding principles created during the meetings in October can be found on the MCPS Facilities Strategic Plan blog at www.MCPSMT.org http:/www.MCPSMT.org. Some general and specific guiding principles include:

· Spaces, schedules and furnishings are flexible with minimal effort.

· Children and families are engaged in learning in early child and pre-kindergarten programs.

· Schools, community partners and entrepreneurs meet diverse community, parent and volunteer needs.

· Students learn through projects, discussions, just in time lecturing, internships.

· Teachers and staff have space to collaborate as a team focused on developing meaningful relationships with students.

· Core learning is integrated with explorations of Music, Art, PE/Fitness, Technology, Library/Media.

· Schools have central social gathering spaces.

· Technology is distributed throughout buildings with portable and flexible equipment supported by robust wireless access in order to develop critical thinking, communications, collaboration and creativity.

· Menu that includes fresh, locally grown food, multiple menu options.

· Buildings achieve carbon neutral impact, and integrate design, construction and operation of building into curriculum.

· Facilities represent wise and sustainable investment of community resources.

These meetings are aimed at truly understanding how the community envisions 21st Century learning in our Missoula school buildings. Currently the community is discussing these changes to our buildings and their surroundings to make sure they offer what students and teachers need for generations to come.

This is one of the most significant efforts in the school district's history, the development and implementation of a comprehensive 15 year educational facility strategic plan. The plan resulting from this process will be the first of its kind in the school district. It will afford the opportunity to discuss current facility needs and to articulate facility designs that connect with the MCPS educational philosophy: the MCPS 21st Century Model of Education.

A variety of options for participating in the discussion are open to the community. There is a blog on the District website at www.MCPSMT.org http:/www.MCPSMT.org, schools are sending home information and soliciting input from their families, meetings are broadcast on MCAT and there will be comment boxes placed in libraries around the community.

The focus of this important undertaking will be to provide the very best educational environment for our children and staff through the successful passage of a 21st century bond issue in the fall of 2015. This bond issue will also provide for improved safety and security in our schools and much needed improvement in technology infrastructure.

The process has three main steps:

ASSESS October 7-10, 2013

EXPLORE November 4-8, 2013

APPLY December 2-6, 2013

The second Community Listening Session in the EXPLORE phase will take place on Wednesday November 6, 2013 from 6:30 - 8: 00 p.m. at the Broadway Inn Hotel and Conference Center at 1609 West Broadway, Missoula.

The third Community Listening Session in the APPLY phase will take place on Wednesday December 4, 2013 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

A range of options exist for each school building across the district:

Option B Business as Usual

Option C Consolidate

Option L Light Touch

Option O Out of the Box

Option R Realign & Relocate

Option S Start Over

The committee and the community will explore this range of options and make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees will be responsible for all decisions related to school sites.

Detailed information about the process as well as agendas for each week of workshops can be found on the district's website at http:/www.mcpsmt.org. For additional information, contact Hatton Littman at 728-2400, ext. 1024 or via email at hlittman@mcps.k12.mt.us mailto:hlittman@mcps.k12.mt.us.