(GREAT FALLS) Rumors fly in high school settings.
But there is one rumor Great Falls superintendent Tammy Lacey wants to set straight.
On Monday, there were reports of Great Falls High School having little to no heat in some of the classrooms. Lacey can assure you this was not the case.
Lacey says it is not unusual for the buildings to be a bit cold after a long holiday weekend on a Monday morning.
“This is a very old building. Great Falls High School was built in the 1930s. It’s 86 years old. It’s aging, including its infrastructure and including its heating system,” Lacey said.
Lacey says Great Falls Public Schools haven’t turned a blind eye to the fact that the school needs upgrading.
In fact, GFPS conducted a study in 2010 to find out what the basic needs were for each school. The number one for Great Falls High School: heating.
“It [heating] became the number one thing that we wanted to address as we presented a facility plan to our community to provide funding to mitigate some of those issues,” Lacey said.
Flash forward to 2016, Lacey was able to advocate and push for a $98.8 million bond to be passed.
Great Falls High School has been allotted $37 million of that bond. Among many renovations, a new HVAC system will be installed.
“The HVAC system is not the best. It is very old and it does not create even heating and cooling throughout the building. We can hardly wait to fix that and mitigate that for our students,” Lacey said.
Lacey says things like this take time, calling it the phasing process.
“We have to phase in the work that needs to be done here at Great Falls High School. Right now, you’ve probably saw the construction when you walked into the building. That’s the construction of a new building that will join this campus with the south campus. As part of that new construction is a whole new mechanical spot where the new heating will be located,” Lacey said.
Lacey says they hope to have ‘The Hub’ done by fall of 2019.
A law states that all projects must be completed within five years of passing a bond. October 2021 is when all projects will be complete.
“We are asking students, staff, and our community members to be patient. We, of course, want to have a comfortable learning environment for our students. That’s absolutely important. On our facility plan, it was the number one thing that was listed for Great Falls High School to be able to address. We are working on it and moving forward with the bond projects. We will get there eventually,” Lacey said.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News