Aiming for a $21.5 Million School

By Beacon Staff

Whitefish High School was constructed 54 years ago in the typewriter era. In 1978, the gym portion was rebuilt after fire. “The school is old and very outdated,” says Linda Maetzold, co-chair of the new-founded Friends of Whitefish Schools. “Classrooms are less than 700 square feet.”

“The school was built for capacity of 400 students and has been above 600 students for many years now,” she continues. Classrooms and labs have been stuffed into areas not originally designed to be classrooms. Technological tools throughout the school are outdated. The aging facility also poses electrical, heating, air quality, and security problems.

Over the past several years, teachers, school administrators, architects, and citizen committees participated in developing a comprehensive master plan for the renovation with a price tag of $21.5 million. Friends of Whitefish Schools has been founded to initiate a public outreach campaign in preparation for that upcoming Aimibond. “The new organization was formed to bring awareness to the community for the desperate need for modernization and new high school construction,” explains Maetzold.

Friends of Whitefish Schools recently registered as a Ballot Issue Committee with the Montana Office of Political Practices and the Secretary of State. The committee consists of diverse stakeholders–community members, local business owners, school board members, teachers, PTA representatives, and school administration representatives—and is seeking donations for the costs of the campaign.

For those unfamiliar with the school, Friends of Whitefish Schools plans to give several public tours of the facility. The committee also plans to create a brochure about the renovation bond and impacts to taxpayers, and give presentations to local civic organizations and community groups.

Voters will decide on the bond during a mail-in ballot March 6 – 27. Ballots go to the entire Whitefish School district, not just the City of Whitefish.

“The main issues are that the school is extremely outdated, overcrowded, and unsafe,” says Maetzold. “It’s not cheap, but if you consider what we’re getting, the price tag for construction dollars is very reasonable.”

If your organization would like to schedule a presentation, please contact Friends of Whitefish Co-chairs Linda Maetzold (862-5158) or Lin Akey (862-3747). Donations can be made to Friends of Whitefish Schools, P.O. Box 4656, Whitefish, Montana 59937.