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Billings voters say yes to new $49.9 million high school

Posted at 3:36 PM, May 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 15:02:03-04

LOCKWOOD – Taxpayers in Lockwood want a high school to be built in the next several years after voting in favor of the $49.9 million project on Tuesday.

The unofficial tally of votes shows 1,495 in favor with 856 voting against the measure. That’s almost 64 percent voting yes.

Now it is time to get to work.

“We want to be the best school that we possibly can,” said Tobin Novasio, superintendent. “We want our tax payers to be reaffirmed what they’ve invested in us. We have such a great team look at these people here today, the volunteers we had going out door to door. The people we had at our numerous community meetings and having those conversations about what do you want in a high school.”

Lockwood is one of the fastest growing communities in the state, according to engineers.

The project, which could be completed as soon as 2021, include building a 700-student school along with an auditorium that could hold 700 students, as well as a 3,000-person capacity gym.

That cost to the homeowner would run about $16.20 per month per $100,000 of assessed market value. For a house worth $200,000, the added tax would be $32.40.

“I was one of those people most worried when we put out a price tag, it was $10 million more than I even wanted to go. But that was the feedback from the community so having that team around us. I have the confidence that we are going to do this and do it right.”

That amount will likely decrease over the term of the bonds as the district’s tax base continues to grow.

Officials have worked on making the project one Lockwood could be proud of and wouldn’t be too burdensome to taxpayers.

“Our hope is that this is a project that we designed this high school so it’s viable in 25 to 50 years, it’s still going to be what we need,” said Novasio. “We’re not going to have to go back to the taxpayers in 5 or 10 years and ask for an upgrade to any of the facility. We’ve really tried to take a long term approach with this including the cost of operations and maintenance.”

The first graduating class would be students in sixth grade right now.

Reporting by Dustin Klemann for MTN News