School Facility FAQ

What is the school closure policy?

A copy of the school district’s board policy on closing a school can be found here.

What are the reasons for having a 4-3 school?

  • State accreditation dictates one principal for a maximum of 550 students
  • Specialists are PE, Counselor, Librarian, and Music instructors, who are full-time can teach 42 sections per week, which is the number of sections in a 4-3 school. Specialists can then spend more time with students and less time driving from school to school.
  • The facilities are used efficiently (computer lab, gym, library, music room all have capacity for a full-time use, or 42 sections week)
  • Resources, such as Speech, Nurse, behavior specialist are allocated time at each school based on need. The larger the school the more opportunity for full time.
  • Student needs are better met when the resources are available when students need help. Kids don’t plan to have a need when the specialist is scheduled to visit their school.
  • There is greater collaboration between professionals with more teachers and specialist per level, which means enhanced learning opportunities for students.
  • Class size will not increase as the District meets state accreditation standards.
  • Less to maintain with fewer mechanical systems, roofs, playgrounds, parking lots and common areas.

You can learn more about a 4-3 elementary school configuration here.

If 4-3 schools are recommended, how can we help the community to understand it?

As the Elementary Bond Work Group moves forward with framing a bond proposal for the Helena community, it will be important to let people know the benefits of this class configuration. A larger school does not mean larger classrooms. A 500 hundred-student school maximizes the use of public funds to teach and support students. As other AA school districts in Montana are also finding, this is an efficient and effective school model. The students in the Helena School District will continue to receive the high quality teaching that they have in the past, but now with services and resources streamlined to better support student needs.

You can learn more about a 4-3 elementary school configuration here

I keep hearing about that a report was done by Mosaic for the school district,  where can I find it?

Reports  that contributed to understanding our District’s facilities, such  as the one prepared by Mosaic, can be found in the Historical Documents  section of this website.   You can also find additional reports from committees and the Superintendent.

What is the operational budget for each elementary school?

The operational budget for each elementary school is outlined in this spreadsheet — Elementary School Data.  In addition,  the spreadsheet contains data for each elementary school on student enrollment,  staff composition for specialists and resource allocations and facilities.

What is the definition of a 4-3 school?

It is a school with four K-2nd grade classrooms and three 3rd -5th classrooms, totally about 500 students.


You can learn more about a 4-3 elementary school configuration here.

Which locations currently are operating as a 4-3 school?

Four Georgians and Rossiter are 4-3 schools and each serve nearly 500 students.

You can learn more about a 4-3 elementary school configuration here

What is the situation with water capacity,  if the District decides to build a new Jim Darcy school?

A civil engineering company reviewed a number of considerations regarding the location of Jim Darcy school that addresses  your concern with water and sewer. Here is a link to the response. Water Report Jim Darcy February 2014

What is the website for Helena School District?

This website is sponsored by the Helena School District to assist the public in easily finding information about school facilities and the Elementary Bond Work Group.  The School District’s official website is

How much is the Elementary Operational Levy?

The public will be asked to vote by a mail ballot only election on two items:

  • Select two Trustees to serve for a three-year term on the governing Board
  • An ELEMENTARY OPERATIONAL LEVY  for $70,000 to support grades K-8
  • Tax Implication for each $100,000 of Taxable Value  (The taxable values are found on the homeowner’s tax statement)  is 99¢ per year  (Less than a dollar per year.)

The operational levy for the elementary district funds the operating expenses of the district, including but not limited to: staffing, utilities, insurance, and curriculum materials and support services. Initially these funds will permit the District to upgrade our Math materials for students in third through fifth grades.

Ballots will be mailed on April 21st and to be officially counted must be received by May 6th by 8:00 p.m. You can return your ballot by:

  • Mail
  • Drop off at the May Butler Center, 55 South Rodney
  • Drop off at the Lewis & Clark Election Department, 316 North Park

If you would like additional information, please contact the Superintendent at 324-2001 or send an e-mail to

Download a printable flyer: Operational Levy Flyer April 2014

Where do students live relative to a school’s boundary area?

Here is a Map  of the District showing where students live and attend in boundary (Yellow Dots) and (Red Dots) Attend Outside Boundary Area.

What is the definition for a large school?

 National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities

Definition of a Large School :  Definitions vary, but according to one widely recognized school planner, Paul Abramson, large schools are defined as:

  • Elementary school – over 850 students
  • Middle School – over 1,220 students
  • High School – over 2,000 students


Brosnan, Patrick; McDonough, James. An Argument for an Unpopular Approach to School Planning. Educational Facility Planner; v41 n1, p7-11, 2006

Where can I find data on Helena Public Schools?

The Office of Public Instruction’s website contains information on all school districts in Montana.  Here is the link to the main page for Data and Reports  or GEM’s provides data at a school level on student achievement.

What is happening with student enrollment? Is the District growing?

Enrollment in the district is not expected to grow.  Several other AA Districts are experience a growth in student population.  However, the trustees are looking ahead for preschool as a consideration in the facility design.  More information on enrollment can be found in the Demographics Final Report April 2013 and on the OPI website.

Where do students live and what schools do they attend?

Students across the district are bused to schools outside of their attendance area. School capacity or parent choice, such as Montessori, result in students attending schools outside the closest school to where they live.

You visually see what school students attend, click this link —  Active Chart – Where Students Live and Attend School.   The active chart is from the data table below:

Screenshot 2014-06-29 19.19.00

Where can I find information for Board meetings?

Here is the link for Helena School Board of Trustee meetings.