Education News

Feb 20, 2014 12:28 PM by Jacqueline Quynh - KPAX News

Sentinel principal hopes MCPS plans bring facility changes

MISSOULA - Dozens of plans to improve aging classrooms and buildings within the Missoula County Public Schools have taken shape over the last three months, and Thursday night the District began narrowing down their options.

"They're original equipment from the 1950s, they're steam boilers, they're used to heat the original buildings," Sentinel High School Principal Tom Blakely explained as he took us on a tour.

Replacing old boilers that constantly need work is just one of many things that Blakely hopes to change.

"One of our safety issues is that we have four different buildings on the Sentinel campus. So if we have trouble, [a] fire, [an] intruder, we have to take care of four buildings not just one," said Blakely.

The MCPS Facilities Planning Committee has rated Sentinel's campus to be in poor condition, so plans were created - ranging from making minimal adjustments, to starting completely all over.

However, the consensus has been to consolidate and make upgrades that would link the campus together.

"So there's not going to be a lot of new things added, not much new space for kids, but they are issues that need to be dealt with," said Blakely

The draft Blakely hopes get approved by the district includes creating a new STEM Center, and making renovations to existing buildings.

"Building 400 here currently houses automotive classes. It was meant to be temporary, but has a become permanent fixture," Blakely said.

"As I see this 21st Century plan - as I have reviewed documents - I noticed we are missing the backbone part of the network," Sentinel student Nathan Anderson told us.

Plans also call for upgrades to technology, and the potential cost of all the improvements could cost nearly $23 million - while the replacement cost could be more than $61 million.
"We're hopeful, as we've always been hopeful as citizens of Missoula will support us in the process," said Blakely.

The plan will have to go before a steering committee, and then if it's approved, the measure might be included in a bond measure to fund the upgrades.

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