School District seeking input on facilities

Survey in paper, online
By: 
KATHLEEN GILLULY
Outlook managing editor

The Laurel School District is facing a number of difficult decisions concerning the future of facilities and how to best manage the student population which is expected to grow in coming years, according to Supt. Linda Filpula.
“We are really looking for direction from the community,” she said. “It will help us come up with options for a master plan to know, for example, if gym facilities are important or if the public thinks the fifth graders shouldn’t be at the middle school.” District administrators will take suggestions and comments and forge several plans. Then, with more community involvement, they’ll make the tough decisions and try to secure funding.
“We have 12 people working in the administration building,” she said. “We spend $60,000 annually just in utilities to keep it running. It has an unusable gym and would cost $2.7 million to bring it up to code. That would just be to maintain it at its current usage. No one wants to make the decision of what to do with it. Should we tear it down? Sell it? Repurpose it? We want feedback.”
Towards that end, there is a survey in today’s edition of the Outlook. It can also be found online at the district’s website. Filpula hopes parents, guardians, grandparents and other residents concerned about the future of the district and its potential impact on the city and public amenities will respond.
“This year we really didn’t have any growth,” Filpula said. “But, we expect it and right now we’re busting at the seams.” The Superintendent said the projections for population growth are based on the current housing stock and population and don’t include the students that would live at Quiet Meadows mobile home park, a proposed development that would add about 225 homes to the city if approved. At the current population, all the schools are crowded.
“Right now, we’re at the conceptual stage,” Filpula said. “In January, when we have three or four options we’ll try to narrow things down.”
At this point, there is no reason to discuss funding.
“We aren’t there yet,” she said.
In addition to the survey, the website offers answers to frequently asked questions. There are in-depth responses to questions about the impact of out-of-district students and how crowded each of the school buildings are by grade. Filpula will add to the FAQ list as necessary.
The survey can be found online at http://www.laurel.k12.mt.us

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