Whitefish School Board to Review Recommendation for Muldown Contract

Board meeting held on April 10; community forum scheduled for April 12

By Myers Reece
Muldown Elementary School. Beacon file photo

On April 10, the Whitefish School Board is expected to review a recommendation from an interview committee for awarding a construction contract to build the new Muldown Elementary School.

Then on April 12, the second community forum of the spring will be held to give the public an update on the project, which is in the advanced schematic design and planning stages.

Voters approved a $26.5 million bond last October to build a new elementary school and demolish portions of the existing school, which suffers from aging infrastructure and overcrowding. Muldown is the largest elementary school in the state with roughly 700 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The candidates for the construction contract have completed their interviews with the district’s interview committee, according to Dow Powell of Dow’s Custom Construction, the school district owner’s representative on the project. The construction firm served the same role on the new high school project.

The new two-story school, which will be constructed on the corner of Seventh Street and Pine Avenue, will be between 86,000 and 90,000 square feet, according to Steve L’Heureux of LPW Architecture, a Great Falls firm overseeing the project’s design and planning. The facility will be able to accommodate up to 800 students in kindergarten through fourth grade.

The lower level will accommodate kindergarten through second grade, as well as “enrichment programs” such as health education, music, art and foreign languages, Powell said. The second level will be for third and fourth grade. The finer details of the floor plan will be known once the schematic design and planning process is complete.

The 1960s portion of the existing school will be demolished, while the wings built in the 1980s will be “saved and buttoned up for future use,” Powell said.

In a statement before the first spring community forum, held on March 22, Whitefish School District Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt encouraged residents to attend the public gatherings and provide input.

“After the support of the community to move forward with the new elementary school, we want to continue to work collaboratively with the architects and community for the best design choices,” Davis Schmidt said. “We want to invite the community to learn, ask questions, provide feedback for the future education of our elementary children.”

The forum will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 on April 12 at Muldown Elementary School’s multi-purpose room.