Work begins on new South Kalispell elementary school

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Kalispell School Board trustees and community members weild golden shovels at a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for a new elementary school off Airport Road in Kalispell. (Matt Baldwin/Daily Inter Lake)

Soil has officially been turned at the site of the first new elementary school to be built in Kalispell in 30 years.

About two dozen community members gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at an open field in South Kalispell where a new $15.2 million school will be constructed. The 25-acre property is located about a quarter mile from the Kalispell City Airport.

“Just glance out there and imagine what is going to take hold over the next several months,” said Kalispell Schools Superintendent Mark Flatau as he pointed to an area of tall grass where the 43,200-square-foot elementary will be located.

The new school is part of a $25.3 million elementary district bond approved by voters last fall. The facility is expected to accommodate about 450 students and help relieve overcrowding in the district.

“This school will join a fleet of other schools that were built in the '40s and '50s,” Kalispell School Board trustee Lance Isaak commented. “We don't do this very often.”

“It's humbling to be here at the beginning of a school that will have such a positive impact on the lives of so many kids.”

Langlas and Associates will serve as the general contractor and construction manager for the project.

Dani Grebe, project architect with L'Heureux Page Werner, said the new school is designed to “accommodate modern learning styles.”

The interior layout will be based on pods, which Grebe says provide better security. She touted the abundant natural light that will pour into classrooms, a public-friendly gym, a learning commons and some flexible spaces.

Grebe said the exterior has been designed to compliment the surrounding industrial and agriculture landscape.

“You'll see wood, brick and metals,” she said.

Flatau noted the 12-month process that led to the final design of the school. A facility planning committee made up of school staffers, trustees and members of the community and local businesses met to sift through building scenarios.

“We met 11 times,” he told the crowd. “We looked at just about every option there was.”

Site construction and foundation work is expected to wrap up later this fall. The goal is to open the school to students in August of 2018.

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