Millions of dollars in repairs are planned for Bozeman’s public schools in the coming year to upgrade everything from aging playground forts and high school gym lockers to the Swim Center parking lot.

“Lots of things are wearing out,” Kevin Barre, school facilities director, said Monday.

The Bozeman School Board voted last week to approve $2.6 million in building improvements. Annual building repair taxes, OK’d by voters in the past, will pay for the projects.

Superintendent Rob Watson said Monday that he will recommend to the School Board on March 25 asking voters in the May school election to approve a new tax for elementary school repairs.

This is the last year for the $1 million-a-year tax levy approved by voters in 2008 to raise money for the upkeep of Bozeman’s elementary schools. Voters in the larger high school district OK’d a $1.5 million-a-year building tax levy in 2010 to run for six years.

Projects to be tackled this year were chosen from a longer list of building needs submitted by principals and department heads that totaled $18 million.

Of dozens of repairs, the most visible to the public will be rebuilding the Swim Center parking lot, which is owned by the school district, for $45,000, and resurfacing tennis courts at Bozeman High for $22,000.

The wooden play fort at Irving School needs repairs and Longfellow’s is falling apart. The School Board has set aside $10,000 to help repair the small fort at Irving and $15,000 to help replace the north fort at Longfellow. Barre said the district would work with parents, who raised money in the past for the forts and have volunteered to help again.

One of the largest repair projects is at Bozeman High, where $175,000 is set aside to renovate the south locker rooms. That includes replacing most gym and sports lockers, painting and replacing benches.

Sacajawea Middle School has been beset by flooding problems for years, because of a high water table and spring rain runoff from adjacent fields. The repairs list includes $4,500 to investigate flooding in the gym and $22,600 to sand, seal and paint the gym floor.

Here are some of the other repair projects:

  • Bozeman High will get $15,000 to refinish gym floors and $2,500 to install an art room kiln in the Bridger alternative program, plus tens of thousands of dollars for concrete, roof, electrical and mechanical repairs.
  • Chief Joseph Middle School will get $30,000 to improve acoustics in the noisy cafeteria and $15,000 to replace 30-year-old tables and chairs.
  • Emily Dickinson will get $115,000 to rebuild the playground pavement.
  • Hyalite will get $2,500 for a third swing set and $13,000 for the gym floor.
  • Morning Star will get $20,000 for plumbing and roof repairs.
  • Whittier will get $18,000 for new lunch tables and $24,000 to replace a 40-year-old tractor, used for mowing the playground lawn and plowing snow in the courtyard.
  • Hawthorne will get $12,000 to replace old lunchroom tables.
  • Willson School will get $7,000 to replace fire sprinkler heads and $2,500 for a new projector.

The school district’s three major construction projects are being paid for with a different fund — the $26 million bond issue approved by voters last May.

That includes the $20 million construction of elementary school No. 8; the $4 million expansion of the freezer room and kitchen in the Support Services building on North 11th Avenue; and the $3.2 million expansion of Longfellow School, a two-year project that will create new second-floor spaces for modern ventilation and heating systems.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.


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