Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the current infrastructure issues at Muldown Elementary?

Muldown was built in 1966.  A major renovation was completed in 1992. For the past 25 years the building has remained relatively unchanged. It is now overcrowded and faces major structural issues. The 50-year-old heating system is failing. The roof trusses cannot adequately support snow loads, requiring the use of snowblowers to remove snow after every snowstorm. Many parts of the building lack insulation and vapor barriers, and there are frequent leaks and drastic temperature fluctuations.


Why is a new building needed? isn't the current building still Worth saving?

From 16 original options studied, taskforce members from broad parts of the community debated three for final consideration, two of which reused the existing building. The taskforce came to the conclusion that it makes the most fiscal sense to build a new school. The school district can spend taxpayer dollars most wisely by creating a new learning environment built to modern standards, while minimizing disruptions to students during the building process. They can also save the functioning parts of the old structure for future use. 


How much Will I have to pay for the new school building?

Your cost will depend on the “taxable value” of the property you own within the school district boundaries. For every $100,000 in taxable value, homeowners could anticipate an annual property tax increase of approximately $65.  To calculate your costs, see the costs page on this site.


What other options were given serious consideration?

A $14.4 million option (32-month construction) to only fix the critical needs and remodel the existing building. Students would move to modular structures at various times over the process. Overcrowding issues would continue.

A $24.2 million option (45-month construction) would fix the critical needs and upgrades while building 35,000 square feet of additions, including a new gym and other common areas. The building entrance would be reoriented and traffic circulation would improve. The building would be constructed for 756 students, but the larger building would be more expensive to maintain with a sprawling layout.


Why is this vote so important?

Ultimately this is about the education of our children for generations to come. Building a new school was determined to be the least disruptive, most efficient, and best value to address the critical upgrades needed. Kicking this down the road will leave our students and teachers at a disadvantage. The cost of waiting is enormous. It will be exponentially more expensive in the future to address these critical problems.


I'm a renter and don't pay property taxes directly, can i still vote?

Yes. All residents of the school district may vote on the bond question.


Isn't the current building still worth saving?

We will save the functioning parts of the old structure for future use. This is included in the construction costs.


What would the new school look like?

Detailed architectural plans would not made until after a bond is passed. However, a site master plan concept that shows the location of the new school and potential change in traffic flow can be viewed here.


How long will a new school building last?

Plans are for a 50 year building.  A building with a longer lifespan was considered, but the increased materials cost were much too significant for this to be a viable option.


Why hasn’t the district maintained Muldown better?

The current Muldown building has been successfully maintained past its original useful life by dedicated maintenance staff. Without this high level of care, the school would be in much worse repair than its current condition.


Is my vote important?

Yes, it is the best way to allow your voice heard on this important issue.


Where would the new school be located?

The favored option would construct a new school just south of the high school. 


Will the new school be large enough?

The new school would be 84,000 square feet and could house up to 756 students. Old sections of the current Muldown building that would be saved could be used for future School District uses. Demographic studies (see study results here) show that school enrollments should remain relatively steady with both increases and decreases over the foreseeable future, there is still room for growth in the current plan. Additionally, the new building will be designed to allow for expansion.


Why would architects choose to build a two-story building?

There are two practical reasons. First, it wouldn’t fit on the site with one story. Second, it is less expensive to build two stories. New, two-story schools can also provide better safety and security because they are designed with safety in mind.


How is safety and security enhanced with a new school?

The current one-story Muldown is sprawling, with too many entrances and blind spots. Architects would design the new school to have as few blind spots as possible and locate teacher workrooms at the entrances. The smaller footprint of a two-story school also makes it more difficult for an unauthorized person to get inside. Architects break classroom areas into learning communities that can be separately locked down. Modern security technology including cameras, alarms, and key cards is also built into the budget.


How and when do I vote?

Voting is by mail in ballot only. Ballots will be mailed to voters on September 15th and are due back in the District Office by October 3. You can also drop your ballot off at the District Office in the Central School building.


What is the total projected cost for a new muldown building?

The new school would cost $26.5 million and take 30 months to complete. A 15% contingency is built into the budget. Increased costs for future construction are accounted for as are saving parts of the old school for future use, architectural costs, site costs (including geo-technical surveys),  new furniture, and traffic flow modification.


How many students will the new school accomModate?

The school will have a capacity of 756 students which is larger than projected needs based on a professional demographic study. Currently, Muldown has 690 students.  View the full demographic study report here.


When would construction begin, and how long will it take to build?

With successful bond vote, construction would begin in the summer of 2018 and likely be just over 2 years with a target of getting students into the new school for the Fall of 2020.


Why was new construction favored?

As the taskforce learned more about costs and use of space, understanding the ramifications of building additions while shoring up old construction, they shifted to favoring all new construction. This minimizes utility and maintenance costs, creates a more efficient use of space, a more energy efficient and eco-friendly building, and better opportunities to enhance innovative learning. Traffic flow is better integrated with the high school. Safety and security are increased. Two sections of the old building would be closed and prepped for future uses that will be determined after further analysis of the district’s needs.


Would the new building be built in an environmentally responsible way?

The building would be built to LEED Silver standards. However, the taskforce decided not to get the LEED certification as the cost of certification is several hundred thousand dollars.


IS $26.5 MILLION A REASONABLE PRICE FOR A SCHOOL OR IS SPENDING GETTING OUT OF CONTROL?

Although $26.5 million is a large sum, the tax payer impact is very reasonable when you look at other bond requests in Montana. (Click here to see a comparison). The $26.5 million budget corresponds to $310 per square foot. As an additional comparison, the new Kalispell Elementary school is budgeted at $352 per square foot. The Muldown budget also includes a 15% contingency, projected inflation, saving functional parts of the old school for future use (and demolition of the 1960s portion with the structural issues), architectural costs, site costs (including geo-technical surveys), new furniture, and traffic flow modification. Although this was the most expensive option that was "officially" considered, other options were rejected because the task force viewed this option as the best value for the long term.