New elementary school Bolinger

This image shows the design of the new elementary school to be built on Bolinger Road.

Community members are being asked to weigh in with opinions about some big decisions facing Belgrade school administrators as they work to accommodate the district’s rapidly rising student population.

In February, voters approved a $48 million bond issue for the construction of a new elementary school to replace Heck-Quaw Elementary; renovation of Heck-Quaw for an as-yet-to-be-determined purpose; expansion of Saddle Peak Elementary; and the purchase of property south of Interstate 90 for a new elementary and middle school.

Now, nearly nine months later, the design for the new elementary on Bolinger Road is finished, and construction is expected to begin March 1, according to Superintendent Godfrey Saunders. The new school will open in August 2021, after which renovations could begin on Heck-Quaw.

Before then, a few things need to happen:

• A committee comprising community members and district personnel will be formed in January to consider the future use of Heck-Quaw. Saunders said “any number of options are on the table,” including renovating the space to accommodate up to 250 overflow students.

• A second committee will be formed to review elementary school attendance boundaries before the new school opens.

• A process for naming the new elementary school will be established for the purpose of receiving input from constituents before the school board makes its final decision.

Specific plans for expanding Saddle Peak are yet to be determined, though “the goal is to cause as little disruption to the students and teachers as possible,” Saunders said.

“That would probably mean a big project when school is out,” he added, though a decision hasn’t been made yet about the time line.

An additional 5,600 of square footage will be added to Saddle Peak – half of it in the commons area and half in the library – to help reduce the number of lunch periods and ease scheduling constraints in the library.