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Artist's concept of Roosevelt Technology Center

The new 11,000-square-foot Roosevelt Technology Center — an artist's concept is pictured here — will replace the Anaconda Technology Center, where students are bused about a mile from the high school, 515 Main St., to the center, in the administration buildings, 1410 W. Park Ave.

The Anaconda school district has broken dirt on the new Roosevelt Technology Center to the tune of $2 million.

The new building bumps a student commons area northwest of the main Anaconda High School and will save the district $30,000 a year in busing, said Superintendent Gerry Nolan.

The new 11,000-square-foot building will replace the Anaconda Technology Center, where students are bused about a mile from the high school, 515 Main St., to the center, in the administration buildings, 1410 W. Park Ave.

“We think we’re going to get a lot more students who can take a lot more vocational classes in junior high and high school,” said Nolan, estimating that classes will open in the new building on Oct. 1, 2017.

Seventh- and eighth-graders combined with the high school last April after taxpayers voted down two controversial bond issues totaling nearly $34 million. The levies would have paid for other school consolidations and renovations.

“Voters wanted us to fix up what we had, so we’re doing that,” added Nolan.

Funding for the Roosevelt Technology Center will draw from the building reserve fund, confirms Nolan, as part of an “energy-performance” contract with Ameresco, a sustainable energy services company that has a Helena office.

Another $1.3 million will pay for a second phase of the project: making energy-saving upgrades to replacing two boilers (installed in the 1950s), refinishing the school gym, installing LED lighting and updating bathrooms.

“We closed a school, then the energy savings we get from the next 15 years, we will borrow money against that,” said Nolan.

“Then we’re also doing an energy savings project with the new boilers and reducing the size of the 90-foot Memorial Gym floor to an 84-foot floor,” he said. Standard refinishing of the regulation floor is part of the gym project, too.

Replacement of the original boilers in the high school and Memorial Gym is long overdue, he added. Asbestos abatement is part of the plan, too, starting in late April.

“The two boilers are like 60 years old,” he said.

District trustees got creative after taxpayers voted down the two bond issues.

Since then, the district has closed Dwyer Elementary, sending preschool, first- and second-grade students to Lincoln Elementary and third- through sixth-graders to Fred Moodry Middle School. Anaconda High has transformed into a combination junior-senior high.

So far this spring, NorthWestern Energy excavation rerouted a four-inch gas main about 40 feet from the middle of what was previously 5th Street to the new building spot, district maintenance supervisor Art Villasenor.

Next, on April 18, Swank Construction of Butte will infill dirt into the spot.

“We’re going to start rolling here quickly,” said Villasenor.

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Education Reporter who also covers features at The Montana Standard, I am a Cascade-Ulm-Great Falls native. Originally a sports writer, I wrote for the Missoulian and the Great Falls Tribune. I freelanced for The Seattle Times and other NW publications.

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