A meeting Wednesday evening at Missoula's Big Sky High School not only highlighted the school's benefits and accomplishments, but also revealed the costs to taxpayers should Hellgate Elementary be allowed to build a new high school.

Communications Director at Missoula County Public Schools, Hatton Littman told KGVO News that the meeting began by pointing out the many excellent programs at the high school.

"First and foremost, we talked about the Health Science Academy, the fact that it's now an IB World School, and the fact that the school really focuses on the Big Sky family," Littman said. "When students are welcomed into that school, they're welcomed into the Big Sky family."

Littman said parents at Big Sky revealed their concerns on what would happen to their school should Hellgate Elementary be allowed to expand and build a new high school, since students in that area would normally matriculate to Big Sky High School.

"They voiced their concern about extra taxation, given that Hellgate Elementary District families would still be responsible for previous bonding indebtedness, as well as having to help pay for a new high school," she said. "In order to build a high school out in the Hellgate Elementary District, you're probably talking about an 800 student high school, and our estimates put that cost at about $50 million. For a family that owns a $200,000 home that would look like about $280 per year."

That being said, Littman said she believes that every family should have a choice when it comes to where their children attend school, and with the present high schools, including Big Sky, that choice already exists.

"Beyond the construction of a new high school, residents must also keep in mind the costs of paying for additional staff and the ongoing costs of maintaining a new building," she said.

A bill before the state legislature would make it possible for Hellgate Elementary to present the option of a new high school to the residents in their district.