By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – On Friday Oct. 30, teachers, community partners and Habitat for Humanity volunteers gathered to cut the ribbon on Unit A of the newly built affordable housing for the staff at Lone Peak High School and Ophir Elementary. It was a project two years in the making and a true community collaboration.
The Big Sky School District Teacher Housing Project began in October of 2018 as an idea presented by Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley Executive Director David Magistrelli. Magistrelli presented his vision to BSSD Superintendent Dustin Shipman. Serious discussions with the school board ensued and construction began in the summer of 2019.
Magistrelli felt that the value of this housing to the community could not be overstated.
“I know from my personal experiences that teachers that are in the community, that live in the community, invest their time in the community have a much stronger commitment, and are dedicated to their students,” Magistrelli said.
The project is a joint venture between BSSD and Habitat for Humanity which will eventually build two triplexes comprised of six units which can house up to 12 individuals. The housing will be owned by BSSD which will act as the de facto landlord. However, the units cannot be sold on the open market by the school unless this action is approved by the community.
Unit A will be occupied by John Hannahs, the athletic director at the school, who says he is already mostly moved in.
Magistrelli said that they are trying to have units B and C of the first triplex completed in time to allow teachers to move into them by the middle to end of November.
Originally, the goal was to have both triplexes completed by August of 2020, but COVID-19 complicated that timeline, limiting the number of volunteers who were able to travel to Big Sky and donate their time. Additionally, supply chains were disrupted meaning that the delivery of materials to the project was delayed.
According to Magistrelli, work will continue on the second triplex through the winter and he estimates that work will be completed on that unit in early to mid-spring of 2021. He is grateful for all the volunteers who have helped on the project and emphasized that this is a community project. Magistrelli said the project’s budget is tight and will likely go over the original budget due to unanticipated costs, in part incurred by materials being more expensive than expected. Thanks to the Big Sky Resort Tax Board and the school, Magistrelli said he believes they will have sufficient funds.
“To me, this is really a community effort,” Magistrelli said. “We’ve had businesses that have helped in a variety of ways, donating time, and material to reduce the cost of labor, to teachers putting in time, students coming up and helping out, parents of the students coming down and helping out. And then, you know, just individuals from the community coming over and volunteering their time to help out.”