History of Lolo School District #7
Lolo School District started on January 1, 1884. The original school building, located on a dirt country road which is now Highway 93 (one of the busiest highways in Montana) was a log structure that burned down in the late 1890’s. The building replacing it was built around 1900 at the same lower level location. The 1900’s building has since been expanded upon starting in 1956 (added onto the north end) when there were only 44 students and 3 teachers. The south end was later added onto in 1965 when the student population doubled. From the time that the 1900 replacement building was built, Lolo School has expanded to a total of six buildings and has “grown” up the hillside from its original roadside school house:
- The lower building houses the principal’s office for grades 5-8 and the classrooms for grades 5-6.
- There are two middle level buildings. The first, built in the 1980’s, houses the district office as well as grades 7-8. The second (built in the 1990’s) houses grades 2-4 as well as the art, music and upper grade gymnasium.
- There are three upper level buildings. The first building (built in the 1970’s) houses the elementary (grade K-4) principal’s office, cafeteria, elementary gymnasium, library and grades K-2. The second building, added in 2009, houses two kindergarten classrooms. The third building, added in 2005, is the maintenance and bus facility.
In addition to facility expansion, Lolo School just recently expanded and made more safe its school access areas – improving and expanding pick up/drop off areas, upgrading and increasing sidewalks and paths, improving handicapped accessibility to the hillside campus and buildings, and upgrading the traffic flow areas for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists exiting and entering Highway 93 from the Lolo School campus.
Enrollment has certainly changed at Lolo School. While enrollment was approximately 44 in 1956, enrollment increased to 152 in 1968, then to 437 in 1975, to 555 in 1996 and now to 630 in 2012. Staff has similarly grown from one-teacher original school house, to the 3 full time employees in 1939, and now to approximately 50 certified staff members and just short of 100 total employees.
In addition to its current hillside location, Lolo School also owns 20 additional acres (purchased in the 1970’s) back behind the post office on the south east part of town near the river. Given the continued increase of heavy traffic on its current Highway 93 location, the challenges with increased parking and school use demands, and all the related safety issues, Lolo School District is analyzing the possibility of gradually relocating its educational facility to this beautiful and much safer location or taking other necessary measures to address safety and other educational facility/space issues. The Lolo School Program
Lolo School takes great pride in and advantage of being a K-8 and “workable size” school district. Lolo School now has about 630 K-8 students, 50 certified staff members and 100 total employees. It is still slowly growing or, at the least, maintaining enrollment. Lolo’s School Board is made up of five elected trustees, all of whom have children in the school and are extremely supportive of the school. The District has a superintendent, a business manager, two principals, a technology coordinator, a facilities director, a food service director, a part-time student assessment/gifted-talented coordinator, and multitude of talented and very dedicated staff members. Though separated by buildings and levels of hillside, job responsibilities, and varying schedules, Lolo School’s employees have worked together as a team or family to provide a quality education and positive environment for Lolo’s children.
Like other schools across the nation, Lolo School has seen a lot of employee retirements over the past few years and will likely see more in the next few. To that end, and with improving student learning in mind, Lolo School has adopted a Professional Learning Community collaborative “team” approach to its work. It utilizes a Mission Statement and Vision Statements to help employees maintain focus on primary objectives. Lolo School employees have a commitment to every child’s educational improvement, not just those in their classroom or immediate care. With the increase in new staff, the PLC approach has also helped us to continue such strong working relationships and family focus that have been the foundation of success for Lolo’s long time educational veterans.
Because the Lolo community is just a stone’s throw away from Missoula, the community is somewhat of a “bedroom community” to Missoula. Most of its population works in Missoula or further south down the Bitterroot. As a result, Lolo School continues to be the “core” to the Lolo community and serves its community not just as a school, but often as a quiet avenue for support for the community. It also serves as the main recreational/play area for the town’s families.
Lolo School teenagers go on to attend high school in Missoula, usually at Sentinel High School. Thus, while distinct and separate from the Missoula County Public School System, Lolo School works hard to coordinate curriculum, activities and schedules with the larger district so that our students are poised for further success in high school.
As one of many outlying Missoula area school districts, Lolo School belongs to the Missoula Area Curriculum Consortium through which it works with other administrators and teachers to continually review and upgrade its curriculum to further meet and exceed state and national standards, improve instructional strategies, participate in critically needed professional development, and develop appropriate student assessments. Lolo School also utilizes the Missoula Area Education Cooperative for support in special education.
Lolo School is ever-improving and its history ever-changing. It’s an exciting and fulfilling place to work, with tremendous community support for doing what’s best for its children!