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Whitefish School Board to consider new plan for high school expansion, sports complex

by MATT BALDWIN
Daily Inter Lake | April 6, 2024 12:00 PM

The Whitefish School Board on Tuesday, April 9 will consider whether the district should pursue two separate bonds totaling $32.6 million to fund a high school expansion and remodel, and build an on-campus athletic complex.

The board meets at 6 p.m. in the Whitefish School Board meeting room at 600 E. Second Street in Whitefish.

Whitefish voters in October turned down a $33.7 million bond issue that would have funded both the high school expansion and athletic facility project. In that scenario, $22.1 million of the bond would have funded the school expansion, and $11.6 million would have funded the sports facilities.

The measure narrowly failed 2,313 to 2,161.

This go around, the district would like to split up the bond votes — $26.5 million for the high school expansion and $6.1 million for the sports complex.

The mail-in election would be held in September.

According to the resolution, the district has determined that the high school expansion and athletic facilities are two separate and independent ballot questions, and the outcome of one ballot question is not dependent on the outcome of the other ballot question.

That reflects the results of a survey conducted following the failed bond election in October. In the survey, 57% of respondents indicated that they would support the high school expansion concept without the sports facilities plans. Meanwhile, a majority of respondents said they would support an activities complex reduced in scope.

Revised and scaled-back plans for the sports complex include a new 10-lane track and field, and a district-owned football field with a 1,500-seat grandstand. The site would also include facilities for ticketing, concessions and restrooms, additional parking and a practice field.

The high school project would add classrooms, labs and shops, renovate the school's kitchen and the Whitefish Independent High School, and expand the CTE facilities. It would also expand an existing multipurpose room near the gym and enhance the STEM facilities.

If the high school bond is passed, taxes on a home valued at $600,000 would increase by $88.04 in the first year. Approval of the athletic complex bond would increase taxes on a $600,000 home by $26.33 in the first year.

District officials contend the expansion is needed to accommodate increased enrollment. The expansion plan is designed for 15 to 20 years of growth.

    Proposed plans for construction of a new athletic complex on the Whitefish High School campus.