school closure

Posted on May 31, 2014

Neighbors, parents rally to keep Hawthorne School open

Parents, children and alumni came together Friday afternoon to show their support for Hawthorne Elementary, one of the schools that could be closed through a proposed plan for a Helena School District bond. Nearly 150 people participated in the protest, carrying signs and blue and gold balloons in a show of solidarity.

Read more at the Helena IR 


Posted on May 29, 2014

Trustees reach consensus on middle school overcrowding


Helena school board trustees found some consensus Wednesday during the second of what will be weekly meetings to agree upon a K-8 bond proposal, but agreement wasn’t on neighborhood elementary schools.  Instead, trustees took up the issue of middle school overcrowding, which has been identified in planning reports as a chief problem and named as one reason to consolidate elementary schools.

Read more at the Helena IR 


Posted on May 21, 2014

Schools hear comment on bond

More than three hours of public comment dominated the first school board meeting to consider a bond proposal that would consolidate Helena’s elementary schools.

For the past few months, trustees have stood by as a work group faltered and superintendent Kent Kultgen unveiled a plan that would close or repurpose Bryant, Hawthorne and Jefferson schools.

Tuesday was the board’s first chance to discuss Kultgen’s latest recommendation, but the meeting offered little indication of where trustees stand.

Read more at the Helena IR

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 May 11, 2014

Public input on school plan needed

An IR View

This week Helena citizens finally got a look at a concrete facilities plan for the Helena School District.

The plan, presented Wednesday night by Helena Schools Superintendent Kent Kultgen, calls for investing in eight elementary schools, selling five district buildings and repurposing two buildings. As part of the plan Hawthorne, Bryant and Jefferson would all be closed as elementary schools. Hawthorne and Bryant would be sold. Jefferson would be used for administrative offices and possibly for students from the Project for Alternative Learning or PAL.

Read more at the Helena IR 


Posted on May 8, 2014

Kultgen’s plan would close Bryant, Hawthorne, Jefferson schools

Hawthorne, Bryant and Jefferson Elementary Schools would close, with boundaries for the remaining elementary schools redrafted to more evenly distribute students, under an elementary school bond proposal brought before the school board by Helena School District Superintendent Kent Kultgen.

“The majority, if not all people in Helena, understand we need to do something with our facilities,” Kultgen said. “Academically, we can’t continue the status quo.”

The district would sell five buildings, Hawthorne, Bryant, May Butler, Front Street Learning Center and Ray Bjork, while converting Jefferson to administration offices under the proposal. The remaining eight elementary schools, Jim Darcy, Central, Smith, Kessler, Rossiter, Four Georgians, Warren and Broadwater, would see between $3.4 million and $13.6 million in construction if voters approve a $73 million bond next May.

Kultgen citied statistics showing that the costs will increase each year the district waits to begin construction.

Read more at the Helena IR.

Posted on May 1, 2014

School bond committee can’t reach consensus at final meeting


Deliberations of the special work group convened to examine Helena school closures and expansions ended much like they began: in a circle.  Round and round the microphone went between the 35 parents, teachers, principals and community members as they sought consensus on a bond plan that would provide funds to overhaul the district’s 11 elementary and two middle schools.

Read more at the Helena IR

Posted on April 17, 2014

Data, emotion are big factors in school closure discussions

Data, data, data was the mantra for the first several meetings of the Helena school bond work group.
However, after broaching the topic of school closures earlier this week, members of the committee are giving emotion a seat at the table.