Q: What exactly is the bond for?    

A: Reconstruction of the 300 building (the building between the gym and the highway). This building is currently vacant due to mold and asbestos being found in the building in the spring of 2023.  The mold and asbestos have now been almost fully mitigated and the asbestos has been abated, but the building needs to be reconstructed in order to be occupiable as it is essentially now '4 walls' due to the removal of the mold and asbestos. Also, the roof was deemed to be the main cause of the mold growth and will need to be rebuilt which is a significant expense. 

Q: How much is the bond?   

A: $1.8M

Q: What all does the $1.8M pay for?

A: Please see attached for Rough Order Magnitude (ROM) Pricing that we received from McKinstry for this project.  This includes all of the items needed in order to get the building to a usable state.  The total at the bottom is almost $2M, but Smith Valley School is using money from the sale of the Boorman School and money currently in an Interlocal Fund to cover the remainder.

Q: What is the date of the election?   

A: Tuesday, May 7, 2024.

Q: How do I vote on the bond issue?

A: Ballots are going to be mailed on April 18, 2024.  Please follow the instructions on the ballot and either mail it back to Smith Valley School or drop it off in the ballot box in the main office at Smith Valley School.  

Q: What is the tax impact?

A: Open this google sheet and follow the 4 easy steps to see your tax impact. 

Q: How do I find my taxable value?

A: Go to https://taxes.flathead.mt.gov/ and search your name and/or property address to find your property tax information.

Q: What is the bond term?

A: The term of this bond is 20 years.

Q: Property taxes just went up, why aren’t you using that for this?  

A: Smith Valley School actually receives only a portion of your property taxes.  To see the breakdown go to https://taxes.flathead.mt.gov/ and search your name and/or property address to find your property tax information.  Then look in the blue section in the center of the page that says 2023 Taxes and click on 'View Pie Charts'.  The top pie chart shows a big portion going to 'SCHOOL', however, if you scroll down to the pie chart labeled SCHOOL Tax Collection DISTRIBUTION DETAIL you will see the breakdown of what goes to Flathead HS, Flathead Valley Community College and Smith Valley School.

Q: When was the last time we asked for and passed a bond?  

A: The last time a general obligation bond was passed at Smith Valley School District was in 2004 for $1.35M. We used those funds to construct our 100 building which now houses our District office and the majority of our classrooms.  The final payment on those 20-year Series 2004 Bonds will be July 1, 2024, which is optimal timing because there will be no overlap of the levies for the Series 2004 Bonds and the new Series 2024 Bonds.  So as the Series 2004 Bonds are coming off the tax rolls in fiscal year 2023/24, the Series 2024 Bonds would be added on to the tax rolls commencing with the 2024/25 fiscal year.  This results in only a minimal increase in taxes for the Series 2024 Bonds.

Q: Is community input going to be accepted?

A: YES!  Please attend the Facilities Committee Meetings.  We are absolutely looking for community input.  Please also feel free to email Clerk Bradford at the email below if you have input you would like to share. 

Q: Are you going to maintain the history of the building?

A: The Facilities Committee is working with McKinstry to maintain as much of the history of the 300 building as we possibly can.  The 300 building was originally constructed as a one room schoolhouse in 1910.  A second classroom was added in 1941 and 2 more classrooms and the special education room were added in 1965.  

Q: What is happening with the students that used to be in the 300 building (which is currently vacant)?

A:  When mold was initially discovered in the 300 building in March of 2023, 2 kindergarten and 2 first grade classrooms were moved into the lunch room and music room of the gym building.  Room dividers were added to these spaces so each room could house 2 classes.  The specialists’ classroom for speech, occupational therapy, and school psych was temporarily moved to the copy room of the 100 building (main building). The music teacher did not have a room. Instead, music classes were held in the classrooms where there was limited space for movement, and hands-on teaching that included the use of musical instruments and other incredible resources became the exception rather than the norm. Breakfast and lunch were served in the gym.  Students and teachers utilized this space until October, 2023, when they were moved again to make teaching and learning more productive. The first grade classes were relocated to the lunch and music rooms, and the kindergarten classes were moved to the Title I and Staff rooms in the 100 building.  Title I classes were moved to the counselor’s room, and the counselor, speech, Braille, and school psychologist services are offered in a small shared space.

Q: When did this all start?

A: The issues with the 300 building started in the summer of 2022 with a broken water line, the installation of new water lines and the restoration of the crawl space due to the leak.  During that winter several teachers and students that occupied the 300 building expressed concern of mold being in the building.  In March of 2023 mold testing took place and extensive mold was discovered above the ceiling in each classroom of the 300 building.  Due to the age of the building an asbestos inspection needed to take place before the mold could be removed.  Asbestos was found to be present and a facilities committee was formed to make a plan for the building. 

Q: Why was the building gutted?

A: Once the asbestos was found the mold mitigation was put on hold until the viability of the structure itself could be determined.  We explored all options including tearing the building all the way down, adding on to the 300 building or removing the mold and asbestos from the 300 building and rebuilding the inside and the roof.  We discovered that the most cost effective option removing the mold and asbestos from the 300 building and rebuilding the inside and the roof.  Essentially the building is worth saving!  The mold and asbestos have all been removed, which essentially gutted the building.  Smith Valley is now needing a bond to cover the cost to rebuild that space.  

Q: Has the school spent some of it's own money on the 300 building?

A: YES!  Smith Valley School has spent about $150,000 on the water line replacement, the mold mitigation, asbestos abatement and the engineering needed to get the amount needed to fully reconstruct the building.  Smith Valley also has $198,724 in Fund 15 (Misc. Fund) from the sale of the Boorman School and $77,328 in our Interlocal fund that we plan to use on the rebuild of the 300 building.  Smith Valley has also received emergency funds from OPI (see below) for this building.  The remaining amount needed to reconstruct the 300 building is the $1.8M amount being requested in the bond election.

Q: Has the Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) contributed at all to the repair of the 300 building?

A: The Montana OPI has provided Smith Valley School with emergency funding of $277,777.  

Q: Why can’t community members donate their time to rebuild the building instead of a bond? 

A: Smith Valley School District has to procure through our general contractor (McKinstry) licensed and qualified personnel in accordance with state law.  Failure to do so could subject the District to liability or void insurance coverage or void warranties.  There are also various requirements that typically need to be satisfied in connection with public improvement projects, such as payment and performance bonds, workers compensation and prevailing wage that could subject the District to liability. 

Q: What if I have additional questions?  

A: Please email District Clerk, Lacy Bradford at svsclerk@smithvalleyschool.org or call 406-756-4535.