Shepherd bond

Kindergarten and first grade students fill a hallway on Friday, April 12. A lack of space sends these youngsters out of the classroom for group work. Shepherd schools are hoping to pass a bond issue to replace a crumbling building. 

I have lived in Shepherd my whole life and have seen Shepherd Schools from many angles. I was a student, graduated in 1971; a parent of two boys that graduated from Shepherd Schools, a board member for eight years, an employee involved in transportation since 1992, and a taxpayer. Shepherd Schools is and always have been a great school and fiscally responsible, but currently it is need of our help.

The current bond issue is necessary for the school to continue to do the excellent job it is known for. Some say, “What is the hurry?” but I feel we have been on borrowed time for years with the old Annex, and right now the loan is due.

Some complain that the lunchroom is too big and don’t like the high ceiling claiming it is a gym for sports. The current lunchroom and kitchen were first used my senior year when enrollment was 295 students, first through 12th. The high ceiling makes perfect sense to me, having a space that can be used for lunch and double as a space for P.E. classes. The news is always talking about the increased incidence of pre-diabetes, and it is my understanding that is because kids aren’t eating right and are not getting enough exercise. We all know how our last few winters have been, so how nice would the high ceiling lunchroom and cardio room; since we already have the equipment; be to have extra space for P.E. classes. Exercise and a good meal are not only good for health, but also the ability to learn.

Whether fire sprinklers should be included in the whole school is another issue. I did some Googling and found that lots of schools in Great Falls and Billings do not have sprinklers. Some have recently had major additions, and they chose not to add sprinklers to the old parts, and they are on city water so they will always have water, even if the power is off. We would have to have a large water reserve and backup power in case power is off and hope it all works when needed.

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The fire the high school had in the library in the late 1990s was above the ceiling tiles. Sprinklers would not have put out the fire and probably would have ruined everything in the library. Our great fire department responded, put down plastic to protect the books and kept the damage to a minimum. We have a good alarm system and a great fire department that is only a block away. I sure don’t remember any student hurt in a school fire, but shootings are another story and this bond will help to secure our school.

There is one thing that I will guarantee you: Every person that has served on the school board is a taxpayer. They have struggled to do right for our students as well as the local taxpayers. I applaud the current board for their efforts. As far as I am concerned, the naysayers are only trying to muddy the waters so that nothing passes. They have no real solutions, and I feel they really don’t care how schools work, and their last mailing is only trying to drive a wedge between different parts of our district.

Do your homework, get the facts, and hopefully you will feel the need to vote for our kids which are our future.


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David Peil lives at Shepherd.