By now, most Bozemanites are aware that the city will soon break ground on a second high school on the west side of town. However, Bozeman High School isn’t the only school that will soon be full— all 8 of the existing elementary schools are expected to reach capacity by either 2020 or 2021. With Bozeman’s rapid growth rate of about 4.2%, it comes as no surprise that schools are quickly reaching capacity. Based on how fast the Bozeman school enrollment has been growing every year, the School Board says that the district will need two new elementary schools in the next 10 years.
The school district currently owns several parcels of land—however, none of them are ideal for elementary schools because they are in areas of town that are not growing the fastest, and therefore do not need additional schools. Ideal pieces of land that Bozeman school officials are interested in purchasing include the parcels near the post office on Baxter Lane, and a parcel south of Huffine Lane near Ressler Motors. In order to raise money to purchase these parcels of land, school officials are hoping to sell the land they currently own— the Emerson lawn at Babcock and 4th Avenue. With the deadline to put a land purchase for schools on the May 8th ballot coming up on February 27th, school officials are eager to sell the land their currently own as soon as possible. So far there are three Emerson lawn bidders, though none of the three bids have met the current appraisal amount for the lawn ($2.275 million).
Both parcels of land located near the post office are long and thin— not ideal for a school. To remedy this, school officials want to buy both parcels and combine them into one, square-shaped, 10-acre parcel. Luckily the owners of both parcels inherited the land, and are more than happy to sell the land, since it will become home to a school, rather than another condo complex. The total cost of both parcels is estimated to be around $1.6 million. Developer Gene Cook owns the 12-acre parcel of land just southwest of Ressler Motors off of Huffine Lane— school officials have stated that although terms of a deal haven’t been negotiated just yet, they are hopeful that the developers will be willing to either work out a land trade or donate several acres to the school district.
Bozeman school officials will ask voters in May to approve either one or both locations for the future elementary schools and are hoping to have the money from the Emerson lawn sale in hand by that time so that school officials will not have to ask voters for money or tax hikes.
Current Elementary Schools (Blue) and Probably Future Locations (Red)