With school bond passage, the real work begins

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An early rendition of the Glacier Gateway new school plan.

Voters last week in School District 6 approved a $37 million bond measure to rebuild Glacier Gateway school and remodel Ruder Elementary school.

Now the real work begins, as the district over the course of the next few months will have to sort out the logistics of the project, while still maintaining classes.

Gateway is a bit easier — students would still go to the old school while a new school is built adjacent to it. Ruder could prove more challenging, as the Ruder work is a remodel — adding classrooms, a music room, and a dining area, among other amenities.

With 41 percent of the mail-in ballots cast, the measure passed by 97 votes, 1,892 to 1,795.

The bond will also fund new soccer and other fields between Ruder and the junior high on vacant land the district owns.

The bond will also spend about $200,000 to increase security at the entrance of the junior high school.

On Monday night, the school board took the first steps to move forward with the project. It canvassed the votes and approved hiring an owners representative that will act as a liaison between the district, the project architect and the eventual contractor or contractors.

The district used an owners rep when it built the junior high 20 years ago and the project went well.

This project would look to break ground next spring and the school board will begin to formally sort out the details of the project at a work session on Oct. 28.

Another facet that could potentially complicate matters is a new Boys and Girls Club facility adjacent to Ruder School. That facility would include a gym and classrooms as well.

If fundraising is successful, that project — with a pricetag of abut $5 million — could break ground next year.

Another complication is the district will see a leadership change next year. Superintendent Steve Bradshaw, who steered the district through the bond process, will retire at the end of the school year.

Teachers and parents are excited about the prospect of a new school at Gateway, principal Penni Anello told the board.

“The bond passing is a sign that we have good relationships with parents,” she said.

Gateway was built in the 1950s as an expansion of the high school at the time and is in poor condition.

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