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Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is East Helena building a local high school?

Currently, East Helena youth travel to Helena to attend grades 9 to 12. The idea of building a local high school has been discussed for more than 20 years.

In November 2017, a majority of East Helenans voted to study the costs and benefits of building a local high school.

School officials and members of the community involved in this research concluded our youth and our community would benefit in numerous ways by building a local high school.

On May 8, 2018, East Helena voters approved a bond issue to fund construction of the new school.

Benefits of a local high school include smaller class sizes to ensure academic excellence and student well-being; more opportunities to participate in sports, student government and programs that meet or hold events outside of regular school hours, and continuity in education grades K-12.

Where will it be? When will it open?

The northern parcel of Dartman Field on Valley Drive has been selected for the new High School. The vote for the School District to purchase the property will be July 23, with ballots being mailed July 6th. If voters choose to approve this ballot issue, there will no cost associated. The cost of land will be covered by the $29.5M bond approved on May 8.

Site work may start as early as Fall 2018. The school will open to East Helena high school students on Aug. 26, 2020.

How will students benefit?

Benefits to students include:

  • Smaller class sizes with more personalized learning.
  • Stronger ties between students and their teachers.
  • Increased attention to meet the educational, emotional and social needs of every student.
  • More opportunities to participate in school groups and play team sports. This will be a Class A school with sports facilities that allow us to compete at that level statewide.
  • Easier to take part in after-school programs and meet with teachers.
  • No more drives to Helena for school, games, concerts and other activities. Safer and more convenient. No more travel over the dangerous viaduct.

Our students will attend a smaller school, closer to home, with smaller class sizes. Students will have greater opportunity to participate in student groups and school sports, such as softball and football. It will be easier for kids to get to school and attend after-school and evening activities.

Research shows that students in small schools do better academically, feel less alienated, more nurtured and more connected to caring adults.

How will the community benefit?

East Helena will benefit from the construction, jobs created and business generated by having a high school in the community.

Instead of traveling to Helena, students will remain in town for the school days and after-school and evening activities. Parents and students won’t need to drive back and forth to Helena, increasing safety and convenience.

East Helena will be able to host sports activities and cultural events that benefit the community.

Many facilities within the new school will be available to use by community members, for free and for rent.

A local school will provide a focal point to the community and add to East Helena’s identity as a community independent from Helena.

Will kids miss out on opportunities by going to a smaller high school?

No. East Helena’s high school will be a Class A high school with its own athletic team and facilities to train and host sporting events, including track and field, soccer, softball, basketball and football.

A smaller student body provides more opportunities for kids to try out for sports teams, participate in student government and other activities.

The new school will have programs, facilities and technology that benefits ALL students, including: CTE Programs (Career Technical Education) including woodshop/construction, welding, STEM, robotics, drafting, culinary arts, art, music (band & choir), and design production, plus other academic and career elective course offerings.

Having a local high school will make it easier for students to participate in after-school programs, sporting activities, concerts, plays and more.

What facilities will it include?

The high school will include technology and facilities for:

  • Team sports, track and field, soccer, softball and football.
  • Wood shop, construction, welding, STEM, robotics, drafting and culinary arts
  • Performing and visual arts, design and production, multiple bands, jazz band and choir.
  • High performing academic programs, science facilities, elective courses.

The school also will include a library, cyber café, commons areas, full and auxiliary gym, weight/fitness room, kitchen conference rooms available to community use and rental.

How many kids will attend?

Currently there are more than 1,250 elementary school students in the East Helena district and 500 high school students who must travel to Helena each day for grades 9-12.

With the new high school, those students will remain in East Helena for high school. The new school will have room for growth, accommodating up to 600 students.

What is the cost for East Helena taxpayers? Will our taxes go up?

The $29.5 million bond will fund construction of the new high school. The cost for the owner or a $200,000 home is projected at $34.21 per month. However, East Helena taxpayers will no longer pay into operations of Helena’s schools once the local high school opens. This, when coupled with the recent proposed increases to the high school levies in Helena will decrease the monthly payment by $4.86 per month, for a total of $29.35 per month.

Local taxes will go to support our own high school, not those in Helena.

East Helena school officials believe the operation of the building using the general fund and other levies will actually result in a tax reduction over time for East Helena taxpayers.

How do East Helena taxpayers currently fund the Helena High School District?

Right now, East Helena taxpayers fund the operations and maintenance of Helena High School and Capital High School. This is because East Helena is part of the Helena High School District.

East Helena has a separate elementary school district, which funds our local K-8 schools and programs.

Once the new high school opens, we will no longer pay to maintain and operate Helena’s two high schools. All our tax dollars will stay in East Helena, to maintain and operate our local schools, grades K-12.

East Helena school officials believe the operation of the building using the general fund and other levies will actually result in a tax reduction over time for East Helena taxpayers.