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Elder Grove sign

The Elder Grove school is running a levy election to help with expansion due to crowding.

Elder Grove voters passed a $14.9 million bond Tuesday night.

The money will build a new middle school and renovate the existing campus to help deal with skyrocketing enrollment in the K-8 district on Billings' West End.

The bond passed on a 52-47 percent margin.

"I think this was a pivotal point for the school," said superintendent Justin Klebe. "I think for this board, school and community it shows a lot of foresight."

"This allows for the growth that's gonna happen ... and having a school that's conducive to offering a quality education."

The bond will cost about $194 per year in taxes on a $100,000 home.

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Elder Grove has already exceeded growth projections, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down.

When a 2012 expansion was completed, district officials hoped the school would hold about 467 students, based on class sizes of 17-20 students.

Instead, enrollment is at about 630 students so far this school year. There’s still about 50 students of wiggle room for OPI accreditation standards, but 10-year projections show school enrollment reaching 1,000 students. The building plan would have enough space to handle that figure.

"(Passing) this is ten times bigger than our bond we did in 2012," Klebe said.

The building plan would convert the existing middle school to elementary space and build a new middle school on a different plot of land than the existing campus. School officials are in negotiations to buy land next to the current campus.

A committee winnowed building options down to three ideas that were presented at a community forum, where school officials pitched the new middle school idea as the one they felt would provide the most room for growth while offering strong facilities.

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