Missoula School District One officials and select guests spent Thursday morning on a bus tour, traveling to four of the city's oldest schools most in need of repair or replacement.

The four elementary schools, Franklin, Russell, Cold Springs and Lowell are the showcase for the district's Smart Schools 2020 initiative that eventually hopes to place a bond issue before voters in 2015 that could range from $50 to $85 million.


Lowell School on Missoula's west side is one example. The school was built in 1909, then remodeled in the 1960's. According to MCPS Communications Director Hatton Littman, the school is over capacity in students, and has accessibility problems for disabled students.

According to Littman, Lowell School's facilities strategic plan includes a total remodeling cost over $10 million.

"Right now, to completely renovate the interior of the school from top to bottom, the cost is $10,741,336. To replace the school altogether, the cost would be just over $11 million," she said. "All of that rolls into a much larger figure that meets that $85 million cap of our bonding capacity in the elementary school district. This is just one of our nine elementary schools and we also have three middle schools that fit into our elementary school district. To take care of all 12 schools within that $85 million spending cap is significant."

According to the materials given out to those city officials who took the tour, the total project cost to demolish and rebuild Franklin School is $14,775,000. To realign, relocate or renovate Cold Springs School, the cost would be $11,285,613. To expand Russell Elementary School, the cost would be $4,730,000, or $11,857,000 to replace it altogether.

These numbers do not include any of Missoula's three public High Schools, of which, Hellgate is by far the oldest.

MCPS officials hope to put the issue before the voters in 2015.

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