New School

A sign stands at the intersection of Cottonwood Road and Durston Road where Bozeman’s next high school will be constructed.

Bozeman’s second high school is on track to meet green building standards, and officials are gathering data on other schools’ experiences to find the best way to split students into two schools.

Bozeman School Board trustees heard progress reports Monday night from their construction experts and from Superintendent Rob Watson.

The second high school, approved by voters to cope with a growing student population, is under construction at Cottonwood and Oak streets, slated to open in fall 2020. Dirt has been excavated and concrete poured for foundations, said Todd Swinehart, school district facilities director.

The new school should meet or surpass the minimum 110 points to earn a “verified” rating from the Collaborative for High Performance School Certification, known as CHPS or “Chips,” said Bob Franzen, architect with CTA Architects Engineers.

Chips is similar to the LEED system for judging buildings on environmental criteria, but is specifically tailored for schools. They’re aiming for 115 to 140 points. The new school should earn the equivalent of a LEED silver rating, which is the Montana state standard, he said.

On energy use, Franzen said, “we’re performing 40 percent better” than the building code’s minimum. The project also aims to divert 75 percent of construction waste from the landfill.

The school will use water-saving sinks, showers and low-flush toilets. Part of the grounds will be planted with native plants and won’t be irrigated to reduce water use.

Franzen said the new school would have enhanced air filtration to provide students with cleaner air. Acoustics should keep classrooms quieter, so students won’t hear noise from the next room. Window roller shades will cut down on glare.

Swinehart said the building will be constructed to be ready to add solar panels if the budget allows it, now or in the future.

Trustee Douglas Fischer said he was pleased with the plans and the fact that an outside group is documenting the building’s green standards. Trustee Tanya Reinhardt said water is often in short supply, so she’d like to see if more could be done to conserve water.

Watson gave an update on the 37-member Transition Committee, made up mainly of parents and school staff, that’s starting to tackle how to split students when the new school opens. Committee members had a lot of requests for information.

In Kalispell, Watson said, Glacier High opened with grades nine, 10 and 11, so that seniors could finish at Flathead High. Principal Callie Langohr said she felt it was important to have 11th-graders at the new school to provide leadership.

“Her one piece of advice was to have everything worked out on Day One,” Watson said, so that students know when prom will be and have a student handbook to answer their questions.

Asked about the plan to build a new football stadium, Swinehart said it’s now expected to open for the fall of 2019, rather than this year. One reason for the wait is to make sure that a new traffic roundabout on North 15th Avenue will be ready when the stadium opens.

The trustees also voted 7-0 to hire TD&H Engineering for $226,174 to inspect and test the strength of the building’s concrete, steel welding, masonry, soils compaction, asphalt and sprayed fire-resistant materials.

In other action, the School Board applauded:

— Bozeman High School staff and students for winning the Special Olympics Unified Champion School of the Year award, for promoting inclusion of students with and without disabilities on sports teams.

--Central office staff for earning the national Trusted Learning Environment Seal from the Consortium for School Networking for protecting student data through modern, rigorous practices. Bozeman is the first district in Montana and 16th nationally to win it.

— Joseph Johns of Sacajawea Middle School and Cael Koentopp of Chief Joseph Middle School, who won two of the nine SAT Scholarships at the Montana Association for Gifted and Talented Educators (AGATE) Conference in April.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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