Renovations Underway at Kalispell’s Five Elementary Schools

Work also continues at Flathead High and Rankin Elementary, on schedule for late July completion

By Myers Reece
Edgerton Elementary School in Kalispell under construction on June 22. Justin Franz | Flathead Beacon

Work is underway at all five Kalispell elementary schools, while the city’s newest elementary, Rankin, is on budget and on schedule for completion in late July before welcoming students in August.

Construction at the agricultural education center on F.F.A. Drive is also breaking ground, while the major demolition is complete at Flathead High School as crews move forward on that school’s expansive reconstruction, which is slated for completion in August of next year.

Meanwhile, Linderman Education Center’s construction documents are expected to be finalized by the end of summer, after which Swank Enterprises will bid out the facility’s renovation work in the fall, according to Erick Enz, the Kalispell public school district owner’s representative on the projects and president of Axiom Builders Group.

The new construction and remodels are funded by a $54 million bond package — $28.76 million for the high school district and $25.28 million for the elementary — approved by Kalispell voters in October 2016.

Langlas & Associates is the contractor for Rankin Elementary School, while Swank is heading up construction for the five elementary schools, Linderman and Flathead High.

Morrison-Maierle is the lead engineering and architectural firm on Rankin, Flathead and the agricultural education center. Jackola is the architect and engineer for Linderman, while CTA is heading up the elementary schools.

All five elementary schools are getting new secure entryways and other renovations. Peterson, Russell and Elrod will receive new gyms, with work kicking off earlier this month. HVAC upgrades have also started at Russell, Hedges and Elrod, and crews have begun constructing new administrative offices at Edgerton. Work on Hedges’ new multi-purpose room won’t begin until next year.

The agricultural education center will be split into two phases. Missoula-based Outback Construction was awarded the contract for the first phase, which begins this summer and runs likely until December, Heinecke said. First phase construction includes a veterinary science facility, a greenhouse and a storage unit.

At Flathead High School, Swank oversaw demolition of the 1970s lecture hall, the old auxiliary gym from the 1930s, the aging boiler room and the school’s dead-end half floors. New infrastructure will include classroom space, 21st century learning areas and a new gym. The project will also upgrade plumbing, electricity, locker rooms, bathrooms and the elevator, while improving accessibility, safety and security.

All told, the renovation will remove 27,500 square feet of old structure and construct 46,200 new square feet.

“Demolition is 99 percent complete,” said Tom Heinecke, project manager for Morrison-Maierle, the Kalispell company heading up design and planning at Flathead High alongside Great Falls-based LPW. “We’re starting to come out of the ground with footings and foundation work. That’s always an exciting time.”

“Things are going great there,” he added. “Swank is doing a great job.”

At 46,000 square feet, Rankin will be the district’s second biggest elementary behind Edgerton. It features numerous windows providing ample natural light, a spacious commons area and versatile 21st century learning spaces. Kindergarten and first grade students will be in one wing on the first floor, second and third grade in another, and fourth and fifth on the second floor.

Lane Huffman, project superintendent with Langlas & Associates, said the school is on pace for completion on July 27, with furniture arriving July 30 and teachers moving in August 1. Among the final details to iron out are installing the gym floor, landscaping, the playground, and a variety of interior finish work.

“Life’s good,” Huffman said. “We finally got some good weather. Winter was tough, but we fought the good fight. And we won.”

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