By Dustin Shipman BSSD Superintendent

“The Ram’s Horn” is a regular column by Big Sky School District Superintendent Dustin Shipman, offering news and insight from the district.

We are nearing a key time of the year in the Big Sky School District – our seniors are getting ready for their next journey in life, and the rest of our students are preparing to finish this school year and begin planning for the next.

This is not exclusive to students, either. Teachers are beginning to plan for next year; we are hiring new staff; and the school board and administration is planning for future programs and facility work. In that context, at February’s board meeting, the board trustees made a decision to seek an $830,000 building reserve levy in order to finish Ophir Elementary School.

The vision of an excellent facility to ease overcrowding in the district began in spring 2013, when the community overwhelmingly passed a bond to build Ophir Elementary School. The project began with a groundbreaking in spring 2014 attended by local educators and business leaders.

Prior to purchasing the land, a significant soil test was overlooked and additional foundation work was required – the planned building budget fell short. However, the school opened in fall 2015 with significant spaces left unfinished. Currently, the school functions without a library, common learning area or a dedicated music space, and there is more than 4,900 square feet of unfinished classroom space.

The Big Sky School District currently has the highest enrollment in its history and all the data indicates a continued upward trend as Big Sky grows and more families with school-age children become a part of the community.

The district is seeking $830,000 to deliver on the promise made to students and the community in 2013. In short, we are asking the taxpayers in the district to partner with us in finishing what we started. The district has experienced growth, not only in enrollment, but also in programs and community usage of facilities. The completion of the space is key for our students in reaching the peak of excellence in all that they do.

I will be hosting three town hall meetings to discuss the details of the levy and what it means for taxpayers. Please join me at 6:30 p.m. in the elementary school cafeteria on one of the following evenings: Wednesday, April 6; Wednesday, April 13; or Tuesday, April 26.