It was muddy and cold, but about 50 people seemed pretty happy Monday when they gathered in an open field to celebrate the groundbreaking for Bozeman’s second high school.
“This is a big, big day,” City Commissioner Terry Cunningham told the crowd, standing on the new school site off Flanders Mill Road, south of Oak Street. People move to Bozeman because they see a beautiful setting, Cunningham said, but what Bozeman people see is a community, with institutions that work well together and a community that values education. “This is an exciting time for us,” School Superintendent Rob Watson said. “We’re thankful to the community and the voters.”
The new school will cost $93 million and have about 300,000 square feet, a large student commons, a 2,500-seat competition gym and a 750-seat auditorium. All eight School Board trustees donned hard hats and grabbed ceremonial gold shovels provided by the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce for the symbolic groundbreaking.
“Now the fun part starts,” said Steve Langlas, president of Langlas & Associates, the general contractor. His goal is to finish construction by June 2020 so the new school can be furnished and ready to open that fall. The project will create 200 to 250 jobs over two years, Langlas estimated. An order for steel went in early, so the price won’t be affected by any national steel tariffs, he said. Bozeman’s construction market is again “very busy,” Langlas said, which can push up prices, but “so far bids have come in a bit under budget.”
The mud will be a challenge, Langlas said, as will the size and fast pace of the project. “But we’re ready for it. We know how Bozeman is counting on this, so we’ll make sure it’s done on time.” Langlas said he didn’t know if his own little girls would attend the new school. That could depend on where attendance boundaries are drawn between the two schools. That decision, as well as the new school’s name, mascot and colors, will be made over the coming months.