Lockwood trustees tabbed Collaborative Design Architects as the firm to design high school plans that will get rolled out to voters as early as May.
The K-8 school district voted to explore the option of expanding into a K-12 district in November. The district now must pass a vote approving the costs of building and operating a high school. Lockwood students currently attend Billings high schools.
Trustees looked at two other firms, CTA and A&E. But Collaborative won on the majority of scoring rubrics that trustees filled out.
"I would like to see someone with more bond issue stuff, but no one had the passion that Collaborative did," said trustee Joe Borgstrom.
Debate between trustees mostly centered around CTA and Collaborative; some trustees felt that CTA made a better pitch about catering an architectural plan that needs to be approved by voters. But CTA's other projects, like designs for a new Bozeman high school and renovations to the existing high school, may have worked against them.
"We're a little fish compared to Bozeman," said trustee Katherine Pfau.
Trustees agreed to negotiate a contract with Collaborative, which wasn't yet approved Thursday night when the firm hosted a booth at Lockwood's Family Fun Night.
Nick Pancheau, a principal architect with the firm, talked with parents and community members about early-stage plans.
"What sort of project are they comfortable with?" he said.
Two large photos showed the current Lockwood school campus, and a larger Lockwood map. School officials previously thought that a new high school would require off-campus land, but Pancheau said the project appears feasible on the current campus.
"We haven't begun to fully unpack that yet," he said.
Things like cost also have yet to enter the equation; whether the district decides to pursue options like top-of-the-line athletic or career and technical education facilities could have a major effect on the project's price tag.
Pancheau also wanted input on facilities that community groups could use after school hours and could cater to K-12 students, like an auditorium.
"Is there an opportunity to have something on campus that's a shared facility?"
Trustees haven't set a formal timeline for rolling out plans, but the law allowing K-8 district to expand to K-12 requires bond passage within a two year window of the first vote passing. That means Lockwood has until November 2019 to pass a bond, but trustees — encouraged by a roughly 2-1 yes margin in the first vote — decided to push forward at a fast pace.