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Classroom expansion official at Meadowlark Elementary School

Posted at 8:11 AM, Jan 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-12 10:15:49-05

GREAT FALLS — On Thursday, Meadowlark Elementary School cut the Chamber of Commerce ribbon, officially opening their four new classrooms within the school. These classrooms will address previous over-population at the school.

Constructed with $1.7 million in ARPA funding, the classrooms provide the school with a little breathing room. Meadowlark is the largest elementary school in the district, enrolling as many as 545 students. Before the expansion, some students were bussed to other schools to accommodate the over-crowding.

“That's a very challenging thing for a little kindergarten student that thinks they're going to come to school at meadowlark and finding out that we're full,” says Meadowlark Principal, Teresa Sprague.

Construction lasted from May to just before Christmas, at which time students and teachers were extremely cooperative with the on-site architects and crews. At one time all 500+ students were required to file in and out of school via one entranceway.

Though the classrooms provide some relief, pockets of Great Falls are expanding so rapidly that there will likely need to be new schools constructed in the future, something Superintendent Thomas Moore anticipates.

“If we continue to see growth over here, it's a temporary pressure relief. We're going to have to talk about building another school on this side of the district or again, redistricting or bussing,” says Moore.

However, Moore is working closely with new city planner, Brock Cherry, to identify what areas of the city are expanding most rapidly, I.e. where it would make the most sense to expand upon, or construct new school facilities.

Construction was previously postponed with initial construction costs from BID being too high. That coupled with a worker shortage from the pandemic exacerbated the issue. Currently the classrooms have already been used for some testing purposes as well as group project facilitation, but they will be employed full-time by the start of the 2024-25 school year.