School map

The Bozeman School District plans to buy land in the Woodland Park subdivision near Four Corners as a potential elementary school site for $1.2 million.

The school district would buy outright 8 acres, which have been appraised at $1.44 million.

Woodland Park, a development by Gene Cook Real Estate’s Gooch Hill West, would donate $240,000 and deed to the school district 2 acres adjoining the 8-acre purchase.

The school district would end up with a total of 10 acres at a cost of $1.2 million, and the development would potentially have a school someday, which could be attractive to homebuyers.

“It’s really a win-win situation,” Steve Johnson, deputy superintendent, told School Board trustees Monday.

Voters approved in May 2018 two sites for future elementary schools — at Baxter and Davis lanes and in the Woodland Park subdivision.

Bozeman school officials say they expect that with the area’s growing population, the eight existing elementary schools could be full by 2020 and then they will have to decide whether to ask voters to pass a bond issue to build school No. 9.

No decision has been made on which site would be used first, Johnson said.

Trustee Greg Neil said both are great sites. “They’re both in the path of development.”

The Woodland Park is a growing subdivision located south of Huffine Road between Bozeman and Four Corners. The site is west of Willow Peak Drive, south of Talon Way and Knowles Peak Court, and north of Stucky Road.

The developers would otherwise have to develop and maintain the 2 acres as a park. Instead they’re deeding the land to the school, which could use it for fields or play areas. A deed restriction on the land would require the 2 acres be maintained as a park.

Johnson said school officials had an environmental analysis done of the land and core samples taken to make sure there are no unknown contaminants, and “all of that checked out.”

Money to pay for the land comes primarily from the sale of the Emerson lawn for $2.2 million, Johnson said. In addition the district has received money from selling part of Hawthorne School’s front lawn for the state’s widening of Rouse Avenue, for which the state offered $148,000 in 2014, and some land for the Stucky and Cottonwood road roundabout.

School Board trustees plan to vote Aug. 26 to approve the Woodland Park land purchase.

Originally the board was to vote Monday night. However, because of a mix-up the meeting agenda wasn’t posted publicly until Monday morning. Montana’s open meetings law requires that the public be given sufficient advance notice to permit people to attend. An attorney general opinion has suggested generally 48 hours notice should be given to allow the public enough notice.

Johnson said he didn’t think the delay would create any problems, because the district has a very good working relationship with the developers.

Asked whether the public would have access to the 2 acres of parkland, Johnson said Bozeman schools block public access to playing fields during school hours, but leave them open for the public to use after school hours.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2633. Follow her on Twitter @gailnews.

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

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.