SD2 board to go after bond money starting in January

2013-11-18T21:57:00Z 2013-12-13T07:46:04Z SD2 board to go after bond money starting in JanuaryBy ROB ROGERS rrogers@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The School District 2 board will cash in $80.9 million of its $122 million bond in January to begin work on its school projects early next summer.

“We recommend Jan. 14 as a great date to lock in interest rates,” said Bridget Eckstrom, with D.A. Davidson, the district’s financial adviser.

Of the initial $80.9 million, $12 million will go to deferred maintenance projects that will go out to bid now and start next summer.

In the meantime, the district will negotiate with architecture firm A&E Architects for the design of the district’s two new middle schools. SD2 currently has completed designs for the remodeling of McKinley and Broadwater elementary schools.

The design and architecture firms A&E Architects and CTA Architects previously have been heavily involved with the design phase of the projects.

The next phase

The district now begins the next phase of the projects with the passage of the $122 million bond two weeks ago.

The bond, approved by voters on Nov. 5, was the biggest to pass in Yellowstone County history, winning 54 percent of the vote.

At the meeting, trustees saw a tentative schedule of when the new middle schools will be completed and when the other remodeling and renovation projects will start and finish.

The plan is to have work on the first middle school begin in January 2015 and built by the summer of 2016. The second middle school will follow one year behind and be finished for summer 2017.

Over the next several months, the board will be tasked with choosing which middle school is built first and whether Broadwater or McKinley is remodeled first.

Once those decisions are made, trustees will begin the process of redrawing school boundaries for its elementary schools and working out a process for moving sixth graders into the district’s middle schools.

“Now, the hard work begins; the fun hard work,” said Superintendent Terry Bouck.

Recommendations approved

Also at the meeting, the board approved the recommendations made last week by its curriculum review committee.

The novel, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” had been challenged earlier this year by a group of parents in the district, asking that it be removed from SD2’s required reading list and that classrooms improve and update their opt-out policy for textbooks and movies.

The committee recommended that the book stay on the required reading list and that the board formalize and streamline its opt-out policy to limit confusion between parents and teachers.

Finally, the board approved boundary adjustments made last spring to a handful of its trustee zones. The adjustments had been sent to the state for review and were approved.

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