Belgrade school officials toured a commercial building in the Bruce Industrial Park Wednesday to get a feel if the facility would be a good fit for the Belgrade Alternative School.
The district is considering leasing a portion of an 18,000-square-foot building that formerly housed Phillips Environmental on Arden Drive. School officials are looking to team up with Career Transitions and R.E.A.D.I. Workforce Training System to create a “one-stop shop” for training, counseling and other job-related endeavors. Representatives from each group were on hand for the tour Wednesday.
Several non-profits in the Gallatin Valley have been seeking to house similar agencies under one roof both to save money and better serve the public, R.E.A.D.I. president Van Shelhamer said. If everything lines up, it would be the start of creating a center that could accommodate numerous agencies.
“The center exists to make things happen and not to make money,” Shelhamer said.
The alternative school has been operating on the second floor of the Real Life Christian Center at the north end of Jackrabbit Lane in the church’s Sunday school classrooms, Superintendent Lubansky said. The partnership has worked well over the years, but the district is looking for a space of its own.
“This setting seems more adult-like to me,” she said of the potential new space. “It’s a really respectful setting.”
Acting Belgrade High School Principal Russ McDaniel agreed.
“This is awesome,” he said. “How exciting for these kids.”
The alternative school started in 2008-2009 to give lagging students a helping hand. When the number of kids dropping out of the high school spiked in 2008, school officials saw the new school as a way to hang onto and help students.
The Belgrade School Board also supports the move, chair Lance Voegele said. Forming a partnership with Career Transitions and R.E.A.D.I. could be the ticket to helping students in need.
“If (the two non-profits) can put together something to help out each and every available person and put them into the workforce, that’s a fantastic opportunity,” he said. “If we as a district can be welcomed into that environment, that’s a plus. I honestly think it’s a great thing. … There’s unlimited possibilities.”
Lubanksy also said the district could use the former factory floor as a warehouse to store bulk items. The district currently doesn’t have the space to buy supplies in bulk, like janitorial supplies or other goods.
“We have some storage issues,” she said. “It would be great to buy en masse, but there is no storage to do so.”
The trio will sit down with the building owner in the coming weeks and try to hash out a deal.