Broadwater, McKinley Elementary Schools Finishing up Renovations - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Broadwater, McKinley Elementary Schools Finishing up Renovations

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The first day of school is often dreaded, as it means the end of summer, but major renovations 18-months in the making have staff at Broadwater and McKinley Elementary School very excited for Wednesday morning to arrive.

Broadwater School Secretary Diann Kramer says the addition of air conditioning and bathrooms on every floor are the highlights at the school, but there's plenty to be excited about, especially the new building.

"I've been waiting 21 years for a brand-new school," she said. "I thought about retiring, but I swore I was going to work at least one year in my brand-new school."

After a levy passed last year, construction crews have worked year-round at both schools, renovating Broadwater's historic building and constructing a brand-new school building, now connected by a glass hallway.

"Thank you to the community," said Joe Halligan, Broadwater School Principal. "This is finally happening for us. It's happening for McKinley. There are projects happening throughout the district that are just going to improve the quality of education our kids get."

The annex building at Broadwater will be used for first graders and special needs students until the basement in the historic building is finished by December. Halligan says when that happens, those kids will be moved into the basement level of the historic building.

First grade teacher Mark Kane has taught at McKinley Elementary School for five years. He says the new tall windows brighten up all the classrooms, and will also save on energy costs. Kane says new playground equipment and air conditioning highlight improvements at the century-old school. Kane says in the past, temperatures would sometimes reach 95 degrees in the classrooms. 

"I mean you can feel it right now, it's comfortable," Kane said. "The air-conditioning is on, and it's a warm day, and we're comfortable now. That's so huge for kids who aren't just sitting there in class sweating."

Kramer agrees that normal room temperatures will help kids focus on their schoolwork.

"Our learning environment will just be so much better, because they'll be able to concentrate on learning and not concentrating on 'I'm cold' or 'I'm too hot,' so this will wonderful for them," she said.