It’s the Gallatin High School Raptors.

The Bozeman School Board voted 7-1 Monday to choose dinosaur Raptors as the mascot when the community’s second high school opens in fall 2020.

“I’m on board with Raptors,” said Trustee Greg Neil

The trustees’ vote also makes the new school’s colors black and royal blue.

Black and royal blue were the clear favorites for colors in two opinion polls, one of more than 400 students who will attend Gallatin High and the other of more than 2,700 community members who voted online.

With construction 50 percent complete, builders plan to incorporate the colors in the school’s hallway lockers, locker rooms and athletic spaces, said Todd Swinehart, facilities director.

Opinion poll results were less clear-cut when it came to mascots. In the student poll, Timberwolves were No. 1 and Raptors were No. 2. In the community poll, Raptors led slightly over Mountaineers.

Twenty-two members of the transition committee – parents, teachers, administrators and students – who’ve been working on plans for the second high school were unanimous in recommending Raptors. The committee gave a nearly unanimous vote for Timberwolves, and voted almost unanimously against Mountaineers.

Transition committee members endorsed Raptors as a “cool name, fierce, kids’ top choice.”

Superintendent Rob Watson said Raptors would be unique among large AA high schools, has a strong connection to the Museum of the Rockies, would not create gender problems, and would easily lend itself to branding and creating a culture for the new school.

Several people preferred Mountaineers, including Trustee Gary Lusin and community member Jeff Krogstad. Krogstad argued Bozeman is surrounded by mountains, and dinosaur fossils are found in eastern and northern Montana, not Gallatin County.

Erica Schnee, the new school’s principal, said they want an inclusive mascot that all students could relate to, and some teens just don’t spend a lot of time in the mountains. She praised the transition committee members for trying to represent the entire community instead of their personal preferences.

Parent Scott Baumgardner said his whole family got involved in the mascot selection and at first pitched the Moose. He said he has sympathy for military veterans, who backed Mountaineers as a nod to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, but added he didn’t think a mascot with crampons or a pickaxe would make a very good memorial to veterans, while a memorial garden might be more appropriate.

“I’m 100 percent behind Raptors,” said his 12-year-old son Laszlo.

Chair Andy Willett cast the lone no vote, saying he doesn’t dislike Raptors but he liked Mountaineers better.

But in the end, as he banged the gavel to adjourn the meeting, Willett got behind the choice, saying, “Go, Raptors!”

In other action Monday, the board:

--Voted 8-0 to ratify two-year contracts with the unions represented Bozeman’s 500 teachers and 326 non-teaching classified employees. Teachers won raises of 3% next year and 2% the year after, while classified employees won 4% each year, which will cost $4.9 million over two years. Administrators said it’s important to pay enough to attract good people and to keep employees in a community with a high cost of living.

--Accepted results of the May 7 school election, which re-elected trustees Tanya Reinhardt and Andy Willett. Voters also passed a $2 million-a-year property tax levy for six years to pay for building repairs and a $115,000 increase in taxes for general costs of running the schools. Mike Waterman, district clerk, said Bozeman voters have passed every general fund tax levy since 1983.

The last six building repair levies have also passed, but the margin of approval has slid downward in recent years to 57% this year. Trustee Heide Arneson said “taxpayer fatigue” is likely the reason why, adding it’s frustrating that the Legislature rejected a proposed local resort sales tax, leaving property tax as the schools’ only option.

--Re-elected Willett as the board’s chair and Sandy Wilson as vice chair for another year by unanimous votes.

--Received an update on construction projects, reporting that the $78.7 million construction of Gallatin High is 50% complete, while the $12.5 million project at Bozeman High – to build a new stadium and related field work, parking lot and road work — is 55% complete.

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

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