Missoula school leaders prepare for increasing student population


MISSOULA, Mont. - During a meeting Thursday night Missoula County Public School leaders announced that they're launching a school assessment in October. The average school building is 57 years old, several are over 90 years old, and school leaders are concerned some are simply too small to meet the needs of a growing student population. Enrollment in the district has been increasing for the past five years and it's a trend that's projected to continue for another 10 years. The assessment is intended to show which schools need improvements or expansion and what needs to be done to improve security and technology. "Our community is growing and our neighborhoods are changing and we need to respond to that," says project leader Geoff Badenoch. "If we don't respond to that we're not meeting our responsibilities to our children and education." NBC Montana dug into how old some of the school buildings actually are and we found out 9 percent are older than 100 years, 18 percent are older than 90 years, 41 percent are more than 60 years old and 62 percent are older than 50 years. School leaders report the newest school in the district, Chief Charlo, is nearly 18 years old. At Thursday's meeting school leaders outlined their plan for the next several months and announced getting the public involved in the process is particularly important. In October school leaders will begin assessing all of the schools in the district and in November they will explore which schools need the most improvement. School leaders tell us before any decisions are made they want to finish their assessments and get feedback from the public. Overall, school leaders say school facilities must be improved and expanded in order to keep up with an increasing number of students. They tell NBC Montana their overall goal is to reach to educational needs of every student in the district. A public meeting will be held Monday, October 7 at the Missoula School Administration Building at 6 p.m.