Four Ravalli County school districts have been recommended for funding through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Quality Schools Grant Program, which will provide them with much-needed facility upgrades.
The funding still has to be approved by the state Legislature and the governor, however.
The Lone Rock, Corvallis, Hamilton and Darby school districts all were recommended for the special grants, which are available on a competitive basis for construction of new buildings, major repairs, deferred maintenance, enhancements to an existing school and information technology infrastructure.
The funding for Quality Schools comes from revenue from the timber harvest on common school trust lands, mineral royalties and rental income from power site leases.
There were over 66 applications from schools over the state, and only the top 29 were recommended for funding.
The Darby Schools application ranked 25 out of 66 applications, and they were recommended for $404,207 in funding. The money will go to build new locker rooms in the Junior High School gym. The Darby combined Middle School/Elementary School gym was built in 1951 and currently has several limiting design features that violate current code conditions and also present a public health and safety threat.
“They were built as a bomb shelter in the 1950s,” said Darby School Superintendent Loyd Rennaker. “We’re pretty excited about getting new locker rooms. It’s a great thing for all the county schools that were recommended for funding.”
The current locker rooms are located in the basement, and do not meet minimum access requirements, and there is asbestos in the ceiling boards and exposed piping that contains asbestos insulation. The locker rooms also lack adequate ventilation, exit lights and don’t have fire alarm systems. The new locker rooms will be on the ground level, be fully accessible, and will include space for 46 lockers, six individual showers, two bathrooms and two water closets.
The Corvallis School application ranked 23 out of 66 applications, and the Dept. of Commerce recommended an award of $729,910.
The money will be used to replace a 65-year-old steam boiler and distribution system. The current heating system operates at a 70 percent efficiency rate, and a new heating system that will serve both the high school and the lunchroom facility will operate at a 94 efficiency rate, saving the district money over the long term. The project will also install hot water and solar thermal panels to receive and store heat.
The Hamilton School District’s application ranked 10th, and they were approved for $41,494 in funding. The money will be used to upgrade the boys’ restroom in Daly Elementary School, which currently has a rotted and failed steel/concrete deck, and the floor is in danger of collapsing.
The Lone Rock application ranked ninth, and the district was recommended for $206,375 in funding. The money will be used to construct a new gymnasium, which will include seating for 990 people, retractable handicap accessible bleachers, an office for the PE teacher and two locker rooms with ADA accessible bathrooms and showers.
The existing Lone Rock gym was constructed in 1972, when the school only had 125 students. Currently, the PE classes have more than 30 students, which is too many for the size of the gym according to Office of Public Instruction standards. There are also currently no locker rooms for kids to change.
Reach reporter David Erickson at 363-3300 or email@example.com.