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Posted on May 15, 2014

Helena has smallest schools among Montana’s major cities

Addressing the Helena school board of trustees this week, several residents likened a plan to consolidate elementary schools into 500-capacity buildings to warehousing, and thus alienating, young learners.

“I don’t think we need mega schools,” resident Brian Arnold said.

Helena’s small neighborhood schools are “jewels of the community,” another parent said.

Meanwhile, some district officials looking at the benefits of consolidation have said the city’s elementary schools aren’t just small: They’re tiny.

“We have itty-bitty schools, not small schools,” trustee Ellen Feaver said during a February board meeting.

Read more at the Helena IR here.

Posted on April 25, 2014

ELEMENTARY REASONING 5th-graders keep abreast of current events, school issues

Do you know more about the Helena elementary school bond than a fifth-grader?
You might not, if one of the news-savvy students in Patrick Rieley’s class at Hawthorne Elementary is your conversation partner. The students say they keep tabs on current events by reading classroom sets of the Independent Record that are delivered twice a week.
Posted on April 15, 2014

Closures broached

‘DIFFICULT DECISIONS’ | GROUP MUST DETERMINE HOW TO CONSOLIDATE 11 ELEMENTARIES TO CURB OVERCROWDING

Currently, seven of 11 elementary schools enroll fewer than 300 students. The smallest is Bryant school, where 212 students attend. District officials say the number of small schools is financially inefficient and limits students’ access to specialized staff, such as gym teachers, counselors and nurses. In order to solve overcrowding problems, the district is seeking to enlarge or consolidate at least some elementary schools so each can hold around 500 students. Two schools — Four Georgians and Rossiter schools — are currently built to that size.

The idea appears to have gained traction among members of the bond work group, who suggested a variety of expansion/consolidation options at their meeting on Monday. Each option involved merging two or more city schools into 500-student buildings. The existing bond proposal would expand Jim Darcy, Warren and Central to hold 500 students each.