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The Master Plan process began in Fall 2022 with a Facilities Conditions Report, Utilization Study, and the development of a Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. Multiple building committee meetings, surveys, and community meetings have informed the progression and direction of the master plan and resulting bond cost and scope. The Monforton School Board approved to move forward with a $14,875,000 bond during the February 14, 2023, Board Meeting. Below is a selection of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the bond and master plan. This is an all-mail election and ballots are due by May 2, 2023.
1. What is a Facilities Master Plan?
A Facilities Master Plan is a document that establishes a framework for decision making, orderly growth, and development of capital improvements on a campus. While no ideal solution exists, the master plan utilizes historic data in conjunction with a range of future projections in order to determine a best fit and flexible solution for the district. The master plan also evaluates the current facility conditions and utilization to fully address both renovation and expansion needs and allows for flexibility in future decision making.
2. Has Monforton School District pursued acquiring additional land for future development?
Yes. Over the past 5 years the district has pursued several options for procuring additional land to accommodate future expansion. Ultimately, these efforts proved ineffective, and the district has been unable to identify and procure a suitable piece of land. The current bond capacity may not allow for the purchase of a suitable land parcel and the construction of a new facility.
3. Did the current Facilities Master Plan consider options for additional property procurement?
Due to the inability to identify and procure a suitable parcel of land, along with the need for immediate increase in space for students, the district moved forward with a Facilities Master Plan looking to explore options to accommodate future enrollment growth on the current campus. The intent of the current Facilities Master Plan was to identify potential ways to address the increased enrollment that do not require the purchase of additional land.
4. What were the priority needs identified during the master plan?
• Additional Space to Accommodate Enrollment Increases
• Safety and Security Improvements
• Improved Site Parking, Vehicular & Pedestrian Circulation
• Playground Improvements
• Middle School Career & Technical Education Facilities
• The Need to Increase Enrollment Capacity Amid Land Acquisition Challenges
5. How was the scope and amount of the bond determined?
The potential master plan scenarios were evaluated by the Master Plan Committee and Board of Trustees to develop a bond scope that addressed the highest priority needs identified in the master plan within a bond cost that was within the district’s bonding capacity and reasonable tax burden to the voters. The requested bond amount leaves sufficient bonding capacity to allow the district the flexibility to pursue a strategic land acquisition should the opportunity arise.
6. What specific improvements are included within the current bond proposal?
• A new elementary school facility including classrooms, specialty classrooms, a gymnasium, a cafeteria, administrative spaces, and other support spaces. Included in this scope are site improvements including playground areas, vehicular circulation, and parking.
• Safety and security upgrades to the existing elementary and middle school buildings including an access control system at select doors and door position monitoring at all exterior doors.
• Improved pedestrian and vehicular site circulation and parking.
• Playground improvements at the existing elementary and middle school including outdoor
7. Are all the proposed improvements from the master plan included in the current bond
No. There are further improvements within the master plan that are not included in this bond including additions to the Middle School and the outdoor amphitheater.
8. Is the design of the new elementary school and site improvements proposed in the bond measure complete?
No. The master plan is a conceptual guide for capital improvements to the site. The complete design of the new elementary and the proposed site improvements will be completed if the bond measure is successful. The building design and site design, including the specific programmatic requirements and room sizes will be completed during the second half of 2023 and will be ready for bidding and construction start in early 2024.
9. How long will the improvements within the bond accommodate projected enrollment growth before the identified future phases of the master plan are required?
The proposed improvements within the bond will provide a total of 48 teaching stations (15 new) and accommodate up to 1,108 total students: an increase of 418 students over the current enrollment and an increase of 319 students over the projected enrollment of 789 students when the new facility would open in the fall of 2025. Based on the projected enrollment growth, the improvements in the bond would accommodate enrollment growth for 15-20 years.
10. Was an addition to the current elementary school explored during the master plan?
Yes. One of the master plan scenarios explored an addition to the south end of the existing elementary building, but after reviewing the pros and cons, the option was eliminated for the following reasons:
• Available site size and reduction of outdoor playground area as a result of an addition
• Added construction cost related to an occupied addition and remediation of the existing building materials as a result of the addition
• Safety concerns of having students on an active construction site
• The size of a single elementary building to accommodate over 600 students was determined to be undesirable.
11. What is an appropriate size for an elementary school site?
Industry recommendations for an ideal elementary school site are 10 acres plus 1 acre for every 100 students. However, this recommendation is rarely realized. Bozeman School District has 8 elementary school sites ranging from 1.7 acres to 13 acres, with an average size of 6.4 acres. The existing Monforton Elementary School site is 4.1 acres. The proposed new elementary school site is 5.3 acres. The entire Monforton campus sits on 22+ acres.
12. What is the impact if the current bond proposal fails?
Student enrollment will continue to grow, and the district will be forced to accommodate the growth in a reactive manner. At the projected enrollment growth, up to 6 portable classrooms will be needed for the beginning of the 2028-2029 school year. These additional portable classrooms will increase the inefficiency of the site, result in further safety and security issues for students, impact educational delivery and compound the traffic and parking issues on the current site. The procurement and installation costs associated with the required portable classrooms will need to be paid for from the district’s general fund and will have a financial impact on district operations.
13. What measures have been taken to ensure that everything included in the bond scope and language can be implemented in this climate of rising construction costs?
The bond amount was established using projected cost estimates for construction and the associated design and administration costs for the scope of work established in the bond proposal. Probable cost estimates were developed utilizing a range for the square footage of the project and a range for the associated cost per square foot. Project contingencies for design and construction have been accounted for in the bond amount for potential unknowns that may arise. During the design and bidding phases of the project, bid alternates will be developed to provide the district with flexibility in awarding the construction contract amount to ensure the project costs fall within the established budget.
14. Are furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) for the new elementary school included in the bond cost?
Yes, all furniture, fixtures and equipment are included in the bond amount. These will cover items such as cafeteria tables, desks, lockers, etc. for the new school.
15. How often is bonding capacity evaluated?
Bonding capacity is evaluated every 2 years in Gallatin County. In past evaluations, Monforton has seen up to a 9% increase in bonding capacity. Additionally, other Monforton School District debt services from past bonds will be continually paid down further increasing the capacity.
16. If an additional piece of land was identified, can this bond be used to purchase the property?
The current bond language does not allow for the purchase of land if a suitable parcel was identified. In order to purchase the land, the district must pass a separate bond measure.
For further questions, please contact Monforton School Superintendent, Darren Strauch at 406-586-1557.