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Ground broken for Bozeman’s second high school

Things are finally underway with the newest addition to the Bozeman school district.

Ground broken for Bozeman’s second high school
By Gail Schontzler Chronicle Staff Writer 3-27-18

It was muddy and cold, but about 50 people seemed pretty happy Monday when they gathered in an open field to celebrate the groundbreaking for Bozeman’s second high school.

“This is a big, big day,” City Commissioner Terry Cunningham told the crowd, standing on the new school site off Flanders Mill Road, south of Oak Street.

People move to Bozeman because they see a beautiful setting, Cunningham said, but what Bozeman people see is a community, with institutions that work well together and a community that values education.

“This is an exciting time for us,” School Superintendent Rob Watson said. “We’re thankful to the community and the voters.”

Bozeman voters last May approved by more than 65 percent a record-breaking $125 million bond issue to build a second high school and modernize Bozeman High. Already Montana’s biggest high school, Bozeman High is expected to grow to 2,400 students by the time the second high school is ready to open in the fall of 2020.

The new school will cost $93 million and have about 300,000 square feet, a large student commons, a 2,500-seat competition gym and a 750-seat auditorium.

All eight School Board trustees donned hard hats and grabbed ceremonial gold shovels provided by the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce for the symbolic groundbreaking.

Behind them, Steve Johnson, the school district’s chief budget cruncher, sat in the cab of a huge excavator and pulled levers to claw up a huge shovel full of muddy earth.

“I feel great,” Johnson, deputy superintendent, said after climbing out of the cab. “We’ve been working on this a long time.”

There’s still a lot of work to do, he said, but this day marked “a big milestone.”

School Board Chair Andy Willett said he felt “fantastic.” Over coming decades, he said, the new school will teach thousands of students.

“The community cares about our kids, cares about education,” said Bruce Grubbs, a Chamber member and former School Board trustee.

“Now the fun part starts,” said Steve Langlas, president of Langlas & Associates, the general contractor. His goal is to finish construction by June 2020 so the new school can be furnished and ready to open that fall.

The project will create 200 to 250 jobs over two years, Langlas estimated.

An order for steel went in early, so the price won’t be affected by any national steel tariffs, he said. Bozeman’s construction market is again “very busy,” Langlas said, which can push up prices, but “so far bids have come in a bit under budget.”

The mud will be a challenge, Langlas said, as will the size and fast pace of the project. “But we’re ready for it. We know how Bozeman is counting on this, so we’ll make sure it’s done on time.”

Langlas said he didn’t know if his own little girls would attend the new school. That could depend on where attendance boundaries are drawn between the two schools. That decision, as well as the new school’s name, mascot and colors, will be made over the coming months.
Source: Ground broken for Bozeman’s second high school