Florence-Carlton School District voters passed a nearly $16 million bond to renovate and expand the facility Tuesday.
As a result, for the first time in 30 years, the district will see a major construction project that will totally transform the school for generations to come.
The vote was close.
The district's borders overlap both Ravalli and Missoula counties.
Ravalli County voters passed the bond with a 1 percent margin, 1,240 to 1,224, while Missoula County voters approved it at 285 (53 percent) to 257 (47 percent).
Superintendent Bud Scully said he initially didn't think the measure passed and called school board members to pass on the bad news.
The second phone call was much happier when he corrected that mistake.
Scully is excited about the results.
“Now we will wait for the board to certify the election and then we do a request for qualification for architects, contractors and construction firms,” he said. “Then we start the process towards building. We don’t have actual architectural drawings and plans, we just had a concept.”
Scully said the school didn’t want to spend money for actual plans and then not receive voter approval. The school had a consulting architect but will now put all the steps out to bid.
“This is the first time to build in almost 30 years and the last building project was in 1992,” he said. “It will change the whole face of the school. It is a brand new K-5 elementary wing plus a cafeteria with a real kitchen – something we’ve never had.”
In addition to a K-5 grade building, the $15,975,000 bond will be used to add band and choir rooms, a performing arts stage, high school locker rooms, a health enhancement classroom, a metal shop building and renovations, handicap access, safety upgrades and improvements to existing buildings.
FCSD administration, board members, building committee, staff and community members had nearly two-years of assessment meetings before asking the public for a bond.
Scully said the time was right to run the bond with the school debt free and “our overall tax rate, our mil rate, for transportation and general fund, going down,” he said.
Scully credits the parents in the Florence-Carlton Parent Association, Booster Club and Music Boosters for getting the information out to voters about passing the bond.
“I got the information out but they did the work of telling people to vote yes,” Scully said. “I can’t tell people to vote yes. We had staff members that helped and it was a great community effort. I’m excited, this is my fifth bond in my third state and I’m five for five. This will be a great thing for kids for a long time.”