Q: Has the student population increased?

A: The Flathead County Statistical Report of Schools shows Kila School has fewer students this year as compared to last. The last bond passed by the community to support student growth at Kila School was in 1996.Has the student population increased since 1996? Absolutely!

Q: Why is the bond amount so large?

A: One of the inevitable by-products of not passing smaller bonds since 1996 is the school now has major needs that have gone unaddressed for almost three decades. The current septic system is failing, the need for additional classrooms is here (classrooms would already be split if there was available space). While this is an uncomfortable topic to consider, we no longer live in the world of 1996. School safety is a real issue in today's climate and funds are needed to enhance campus security immediately.  

Q: Why are we considering a two-story addition? 

A: The slope of the land at Kila School is steep. Take a moment to consider the elevation difference between Kila Road and the school building. This slope provides a unique opportunity to create less expensive square footage by building up rather than out. A two-story building uses a smaller foundation and a smaller roof leaving money to address other needs like ADA compliance.

The two-story addition also immediately improves campus security. First, there will be a single point of entry into the school building. Second, the existing slope of the land will be made even steeper to create a natural wall. Fences will be constructed on top of this natural wall, making unwanted entry onto campus even more difficult. 

Q: Why was there only one bid presented for the bond project?

A: First, Kila School has chosen to work with McKinstry to act as our construction management agency and general contractor, while also guiding us through the bond process. McKinstry will work with Kila School to obtain bids and select the best qualified subtractor for each phase of construction after the bond has been approved.

Second, Kila School put out a public notice that we were considering putting a bond before the voters. A handful of companies responded that they were interested in heading up the bond project (much like a general contractor would manage a home build). We asked each of those companies to make a presentation explaining their bond and construction process, experience, ideas, references, etc. One company, McKinstry followed through and presented. Multiple attempts were made to contact the other companies that had originally shown interest and those attempts were met with unanswered emails and unreturned phone calls. Ask yourself, would you begin a major construction project on your home with a company that won’t return your phone calls?

 After checking references, sitting through a thorough and professional presentation, and asking question after question over the course of months, McKinstry was chosen to work with Kila School under a design-build contract. This design-build contract, which is fairly new to Montana, allows Kla School to select the best qualified subcontractor. Before design-build, the school would have been required to go with the lowest bid regardless. It is also worth noting that McKinstry and not Kila School will be responsible to absorb any cost overages that occur during the construction process. 

Q: Why are we using commercial construction estimates and not residential construction estimates when discussing the bond?

A: Schools are public buildings. Modifications to public buildings must be done in accordance with current state law. In fact, any modification done to a public building in excess of $150,000 is highly regulated by the state of Montana and requires professional design services.

For this reason, an addition to Kila School must meet all current state commercial (not residential) construction codes including fire code, ADA compliance, seismic codes, HVAC requirements, etc. All construction drawings must be fully designed and stamped by an engineer before site work can commence. All entities involved in the project are required to be bonded and insured at a commercial building rate.  

Q: Why are we considering a bond?

A: The community, students and staff of Kila School have asked us to address issues surrounding safety, classroom size, lack of restroom facilities, and road congestion. After years of intentional information gathering, we are ready to put before the voters a plan to address these and other needs of Kila School.

Q: What will the bond be used for?

A: The bond will be used to add square footage to the existing middle school building (the newest building at Kila School) for classroom space, bathrooms, and multi-purpose space. A student drop-off and pick-up loop with short-term parking spaces will be added to alleviate congestion on Kila Road. Safety will be enhanced by re-grading the campus to create a secure main entrance at ground level, keeping all students away from Kila Road, and adding fencing to create a unified and secure campus.

Q: How many students attend Kila School?

A: Kila School is both an elementary and middle school serving over 170 students in grades kindergarten through grade 8 for the 2023-2024 school year. As the population of Montana continues to increase, schools are tasked with providing a quality education for more and more students without receiving funding for building additional classrooms and bathrooms.  

Q: Have we outgrown our current space at Kila School?

A: Yes. Kila School currently has one bathroom stall and one urinal for our male students in grades 4 through 8 to utilize – that’s 55 students. There are two bathroom stalls for our 40 female students in grades 4 through 8.

Kila School currently has space for one classroom per grade level. If the school had available square footage, highly populated grade levels would already be split into two classes.

Q: How are schools funded?

A: Montana schools receive funding for daily operations through the state, local property taxes, and some federal funds designated for specific programs (For example, the Title I program utilized to assist students with math and reading learning gaps). 

Montana schools do not receive state or federal funding for construction projects used to address the growing student population.

Q: When was the last time Kila School passed a bond?

A: The last bond passed by Kila School was in 1996. As discussed above, Montana schools do not receive state or federal funding for major construction projects used to address the growing student population. Has the student population grown since the year 1996? Absolutely! 

Q: How does this years property tax increase affect school budgets? Shouldn’t schools have already received a substantial increase in funding?

A: The short answer is no, Kila School will not receive additional funding due to the increase in local property taxes. School funding is based on a set formula established by state law. That formula is largely based on student enrollment. When additional taxes are collected, the state simply has more money - not schools.

Kila School is 100% dependent on the Kila community to address the need for more classrooms, bathrooms, and increased security when state funding falls short.

Q: How do you address those who say school funds are mismanaged?

A: Kila School has a budget committee that begins each year with an established budget, much like that of a household budget. There are line items designated for curriculum, propane, electricity, internet, etc. To pay the electric bill for example, your school board must first approve the payment at a monthly board meeting. After approval, a check is signed by two designated individuals. The payment is classified as utilities/electricity and the budget is updated to reflect this expense. Several times throughout the school year, the committee goes through the school budget line by line.

It is also worth noting the Kila School budget is audited annually by an independent accounting firm as required by state law.

Q: Have you considered future growth?

A: Yes. The Kila School campus currently has septic fields to the north and south of the existing buildings, which prevent expansion. As part of this construction plan, the septic field will be relocated to allow for future septic capacity and further growth.

Q: Have you considered utilizing modular classrooms?

A: Modular classrooms have been discussed as a way of providing additional classroom space for our students. The cost to purchase, transport, and install a modular including commercial electrical and plumbing have proven to be comparable to constructing a classroom onto the existing school building. This option also fails to address the safety and road congestion concerns brought by the community, students and staff.

Q: What if I don’t have a student at Kila School?

A: We understand that not all residents of the Kila community currently have a student attending Kila School. Strong schools improve property values and develop the next generation of professionals, tradesmen, and other productive members of society. School is a place to learn education fundamentals and how to exist in social settings. The elementary and middle school education provided at the school has already begun to change the course of entire families.

Q:  What will this cost a Kila taxpayer?

A: Please follow this link to gain a thorough understanding of your property tax value and bond impact:

Tax Value Bond Impact Calculator

Q:  How do I vote on the bond issue?

A: Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters in the Kila School district between April 17th and April 22nd. Follow the instructions on the ballot and return your properly completed ballot via mail or in person to Kila School.

Q:  Have you considered modifying the existing gym to increase spectator seating? 

A: Yes. The school gym is a 1976 pre-engineered metal building. This type of building is designed to exist within its original footprint and to very precise structural calculations (even the siding has a structural component). Extending walls or creating bump outs for bleachers would mean increasing the structure of the entire building to current building code standards. This includes adding enough steel to meet current commercial snow load and seismic requirements, adding a commercial grade sprinkler system, adding a non-freezing holding tank or well to supply the sprinkler system, etc.  

It is worth noting the septic field to the south of the gym would have to be moved before any modifications could be made in that direction.

Q:  How does this construction project address the asbestos notice?  

A: At the beginning of each school year, parents/guardians are asked to complete a welcome back to school packet. In that packet is an asbestos notification form. This notice is given because there is undisturbed asbestos in the walls of the Kila School office building - not in the kindergarten through 8th grade classroom building. This construction project involves adding onto the existing classroom building where there is no asbestos. 

Q:  Does the proposed drop-off and pick-up loop change the current playground location?   

A: The proposed construction design creates a drop-off and pick-up loop with short-term and handicap accessible parking to address both the unsafe congestion in the current school parking lot and the congestion created on Kila Road. To address safety concerns, the current playground equipment and playing field are relocated away from Kila Road and behind a fence on our secured/unified campus. 

Q:  Will we still have to walk up the hill to the office building? 

A: We will not. Kila School sits on land that has a natural, large slope away from the school buildings. This natural slope will be utilized to create an entrance at ground level - think of a walkout basement. The roofline of the addition will match that of the existing middle school building, plus we gain a walkout basement style secure entrance. 

Q:  Will there be public meetings regarding the proposed construction project?  

A: Yes. There will be two public meetings held at Kila School to allow all interested community members time to discuss the proposed improvements. The first gathering will be held April 11th at 6:30PM. The second gathering will be held April 18th at 3:30PM.  

Please submit questions to bond@kilaschool.com