Voters approve $26.5 million bond for new elementary school

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Students work in a classroom at Muldown Elementary.

Whitefish voters Tuesday passed a $26.5 million bond request to construct a new Muldown Elementary School.

The vote passed by 61.4 percent paving the way for the Whitefish School District to construct a new elementary school to house growing enrollment and provide a solution to issue surrounding the current aging school building.

“We are thankful to the Whitefish community for investing in our kids and investing in our future,” said Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt in a release. “Our community group rallied for the needs of our kids. I now look forward to the next steps - designing a new school so we can give our kids the best education we can offer them in the modern era.”

The votes in the mail-in election were 2,399 in favor to 1,508 against, according to the school district.

First constructed in 1966 with major renovations in 1992, the current Muldown school is now the largest elementary school in the state

The 50-year-old building suffers a number of infrastructure issues including a failing heating system and a roof that wasn’t designed to handle Whitefish’s snow.

While Muldown was originally built to comfortably house 600 students, last year 670 kids walked the halls, and this year about 710 students are enrolled in the K-4 school. The increases in enrollment have lead to makeshift classrooms, a lack of staff offices and insufficient storage space.

The School District asked voters to approve the bond to construct a new school following about two years of study. The new Muldown is proposed to be about 84,000-square-feet over two stories and include a new gym, and be designed to house about 755 students.

Property taxes will see increase of about $130 annually for a home with a taxable value of about $240,000 as a result of the bond, according to the school district.

“Our community spent so much time analyzing the issues with Muldown and recognizing the serious needs we have,” Davis Schmidt said. “Our board unanimously supported this initiative and I am grateful that our voters did too.”

The School Board is expected to canvas the election results at its meeting on Tuesday.

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