MIS Facilities Design Process

MIS is excited to be working on the design and planning process for a permanent facility. Check here for frequent updates!

Plans for New Building Move Forward


We are making great progress on our project for a new home for MIS, “Mi casa es tu casa.”  We have been working with the architects since last fall to develop the schematic design for the building. The next step is to develop the construction documents. The design team is on track to break ground this summer.

Thank you to those of you who joined the MIS Board of Trustees at the Winter Parent Meeting last Wednesday. The gym was abuzz with excitement and wonder about our new drawings and the approaching reality of a new school!

At the meeting, the Board and a few supporters of the capital campaign, MIS parents Kay Grissom-Kiely and Daniel Kiely and MIS grandparent and Trustee, Ray Aten, issued a call to action to the MIS Parent community:

  1. Be sure to re-enroll your kids for next year – the deadline to return your re-enrollment paperwork is Wednesday, January 25.
  2. Support our Annual Fund to ensure our continued quality of education for your child.
  3. Invest in our Capital Campaign to help us move into our new building in August 2018.

In case you were unable to attend the Winter Parent Meeting last Wednesday, we are seeking your thoughts and comments on the plans as an important step in the schematic design phase. You can see the latest drawings displayed in the hallway at school with a comment box in front – or by clicking here. Email Julie, jlennox@mismt.org, with your comments or questions.

To quote Daniel Kiely, we hope each and every MIS family will “dig deep and invest as much as you can in the future of MIS. It is not a ‘cost;’ it is an investment in our children’s future, as well the future of our community.”

Mi Casa es tu casa: A new home for MIS

Mi Casa es tu casa: A new home for MIS

October 13, 2016

The MIS Board of Trustees has pledged to seek funding for our new campus outside the school’s operating funds. To meet these ambitious plans, MIS has launched a capital campaign to fulfill the cost to construct the new school. In addition to our ongoing annual fundraising for operations, we seek private gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations with a goal of completing the campaign by Summer 2017, a year ahead of the opening of the school in Fall 2018.
For individuals, there are many ways to donate to the campaign through:
  • gifts of cash
  • appreciated stocks, bonds, or mutual funds
  • paid-up life insurance policies
  • real estate
  • artwork
  • coin collections
  • cars, boats, airplanes.
For those 70 1/2 and older, a popular method is the Charitable IRA Rollover. This allows a tax-free transfer from an IRA to MIS that will satisfy annual required minimum distribution requirements. Great for those who don’t want to pay taxes on IRA distributions they don’t need.
During our recent G-Day festivities, we received six (6) new IRA gift commitments, including one for $100,000! THANK YOU!
Contributions provide the satisfaction of seeing your gift go to work immediately to build the best IB and Spanish immersion school that will revolutionize our students’ experience. Donors may even qualify for significant tax benefits!
If you or someone you know may be interested in contributing to make our new home a reality, please contact Julie Lennox (jlennox@mismt.org) or John Scibek (jscibek@mismt.org) or at 406-542-9924.

Updates on MIS’s New Campus Project – July 12, 2016

Dear MIS Parents,
I hope your summer is off to a good start and you are finding time to enjoy family and a bit of the down time summer can provide.
At MIS, we are working hard to keep our New Building Project moving forward. I have a few exciting updates for you.
  • First, today we are the OFFICIAL OWNERS of the property at 800 South Third Street West! We closed on the property this afternoon.
  • Yesterday the Missoula City Council authorized Parks and Recreation to further invest in the feasibility study for a partnership with MIS to develop a recreational and community center on our property. See the Missoulian article published last night.
  • It became clear over the past six months that Lake|Flato Architects was going to be unable to meet our budget and our timeline for this project. As a result, we decided to change architects and go with the firm that was our 2nd choice during our RFP process in December, NAC Architecture.  NAC has much experience in school design and they have designed many recreational facilities. They are located in Spokane with many Missoula connections and are proving thus far to be professional, responsive, and excellent collaborators.
We now have the pieces in place to move deliberately and efficiently to keep the project on track for Aug 2018 opening.
We have developed the attached FAQ’s to help you not only better understand the project, but also feel confident responding to questions you may get from friends. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Progress Update on the New Facility

Dear MIS parents,
On behalf of the MIS Board of Trustees, I want to thank you for all of your support during the 2015-2016 school year and wish you a happy summer.
We continue to work hard to ensure continued progress on the development of a new facility for MIS.
A few updates on activity that will happen this summer:
  • We have secured the funding for the property at 800 South Third St. W. and will be closing in the next few weeks.
  • As you are very likely aware, our campaign to build a new school, along with shared multi-generational recreation and cultural facilities with the City of Missoula, is now public (Missoulian, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, page A4; click here). While we have a bit more work to do in the next few weeks to educate the City Council on the merits of the shared facilities and the ‘firewall’ between City resources and those being used to build the new school, we are confident we’ll get the City’s commitment to the process by September 1st. This partnership is congruent with MIS’s plan for building an enhanced facility for its school and students, as well as the City’s “Parks Master Plan” and the “McCormick Park Master Plan,” both of which call for such a facility. The timing, location and opportunity of this collaboration definitely make this a win-win situation for all of the partners involved.
  • The architects will be in town this summer – on July 18-19 to share updated plans and host a community charrette for input on the design. We hope you will join us if you are in town those days. More detailed information of the agenda will follow shortly.
We will continue to provide updates over the summer as new information arises. We hope to see you in July when the architects are in town.
With gratitude,
Norm Williamson
Board President


P.S. To learn more, check out the article, “A School for the 21st Century…and Beyond,” in the Spring/Summer 2016 Messenger.

MIS Signs Memorandum of Agreement With the City of Missoula

Dear MIS Parents,

 As you may know, part of our goal as we develop a new campus at 800 S. 3rd St. W. is to establish partnerships that will allow us to build indoor recreation facilities and community cultural spaces that will give MIS students opportunities beyond their wildest dreams, and also become available to the greater Missoula community.

We are excited to announce this week that MIS and the City of Missoula entered into a formal agreement to jointly develop recreational facilities to serve the greater Missoula community.

Studies have shown that there is significant community demand for indoor recreation facilities for uses including soccer, lacrosse, basketball, climbing, and others. Existing facility usage in Missoula is near capacity or is not serving certain needs. Additionally, both the school community and the greater Missoula community are in need of affordable and adaptable gathering spaces for a diverse array of community performances, concerts, presentations, ceremonies, and celebrations.

A partnership between MIS and the City is an effective and efficient way to develop financially sustainable recreational and cultural facilities and programs on a centrally located recreation campus.

We will continue to update you as we work out the details of this exciting partnership.  CLICK HERE TO REVIEW THE MOA DOCUMENT.

Best regards,
Julie Lennox, Head of School
Norm Williamson, Board President

MIS Makes Progress on New Campus Development

MIS Facility Update from the Board – March 28, 2016

Greetings MIS Families,

This winter, while MIS students were busy winning state FIRST LEGO League competitions, scoring in the top ranks in regional math contests, winning multiple gold medals at the State Science Fair, and preparing for the 5th grade PYP Exhibition, among many other things, the MIS Board and administrative leadership were making great progress on our plans for a new campus.  We are eager to update you below.

Finalizing the Purchase of the Property at 800 S. 3rd St. W.Site of MIS

We are still in the “Study Period” as defined in the purchase sale agreement from November 17, 2015.  We have completed a review of the property’s title, zoning, and environmental evaluations and have found nothing of significance to prevent MIS from developing the site.  We are now working to secure financing and have full confidence we will finalize MIS’s purchase of the property this spring.

Our Design Team is Extraordinary

We have assembled a top-notch team to help us see this project to successful completion.

General Contractor

MIS is pleased to announce that Missoula’s own Jackson Contractor Group will lead the project design phase and construction.  Jackson jackson contractorContractor Group is a respected local Missoula firm known for its commitment to professionalism, quality workmanship, safety on the job site, and meeting schedule and budget goals.  It has worked on several big projects in Missoula, including the new Missoula College; the Garlington, Lohn & Robinson law firm in downtown Missoula; and several buildings on the UM campus, including the Phyllis J. Washington Education Center and the Payne Family Native American Center, among others.  Jackson will join us right from the beginning as GC/CM (general contractor/construction manager), which will help us control costs and meet our timeline.


MIS is thrilled to have Lake|Flato Architects as the design partner for the project.  Lake|Flato is based in San Antonio but works on projects across the nation.  Lake|Flato has completed over 100 buildings on nearly 20 independent school campuses in the past two decades.

MIS will specifically work with Greg Papay, partner-in-charge, and Brandi Rickels, project manager, of Lake|Flato Architects.IMG_9689

  • Lake|Flato has been honored with over 200 design awards, including the American Institute of Architects Firm of the Year Award in 2004.
  • In 2013, Fast Company named Lake|Flato one of the Ten Most Innovative Architecture Firms in the World.
  • The firm also received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.
  • In 2015 Lake|Flato placed 6th in Architect Magazine’s 2015 Top 50 — an annual ranking of the best U.S. firms.

Owner’s Rep/Project Manager

MIS continues to partner with Equity Schools, Inc. to actualize the comprehensive project plan.  Equity Schools is a small firm based in Chicago and working nationally to solve capital and operational funding problems for schools (public, private, and charter), other tax-exempt organizations, public entities, and for-profit businesses.  Richard R. Murray is the president and founder of Equity Schools.  He is personally involved in every project the firm undertakes, regardless of its size, and he directs every project team.  Rick’s own experience includes extensive work in real estate, finance, law, and education. Rick helped MIS develop the original plan and now serves as the project manager and owner’s representative.  He is contracting with the following partners for success:

  • Local Staff/Project Superintendent (Homeword). Homeword is a local Missoula organization and will serve as MIS’s local project superintendent.  Homeword is regionally and nationally recognized for its sustainable, affordable housing development and programming.  Since 1995, they’ve developed over 500 units of innovative, affordable housing through 21 development projects in nine Montana communities.  Equity Schools has contracted with Homeword to provide services as the local project superintendent. Homeword already assisted in reviewing contractor proposals.
  • Contract Auditor (Harrington Ellis). Ginger Ellis founded G. Harrington Ellis, P.C., in October 1985 after determining that few people in the country had her expertise in assisting owners of construction projects.  The firm specializes in monitoring and controlling construction costs by performing consulting services including contract language assistance, contract compliance audits, and litigation and arbitration services.  Ginger assisted with reviewing the contractor proposals, and she will assist with negotiating language in the contract with the selected contracting firm.
  • Videographer/Documentation (Boom Shadow Media). Taylor Lennox is a recent graduate of UM’s Media Arts Program in filmmaking.  He is also one of the first students of MIS.  He has assisted with revising the MIS Plan PowerPoint slide show to suit donor presentations. He also is continuing to film key meetings and interviews to document the project.

Partnerships Continue to Develop

As we described at the Winter Parent Meeting, we are working to build partnerships in the greater Missoula community to enhance our project in_MG_1120 multiple ways.  While we can’t share the details of this partnership until the agreements are formalized, the discussions continue to be very positive. The spaces we will be able to build with the backing of the partnership will be phenomenal for both MIS students and the greater Missoula community.  We anticipate a formal agreement this spring to allow us to share more broadly the details of the project.

Anticipated Timeline

We have secured an extension on the lease of the Prescott Building with MCPS through August 2018, with an option for an additional six months if needed.  This extension allows MIS the time to be sure we approach the project carefully and thoughtfully and make sound decisions along the way.  This spring, we are working with the architects and the contractor to develop detailed designs and cost projections that will better inform our completion goal.  We will keep you updated.

Your Input is Needed

Each year we seek input from our parents through an online survey to continue to improve our school and operations.  We would appreciate you taking some time to complete this year’s survey by clicking here.  You can claim TWO HOURS of parent volunteer time – per family – for your time.  We carefully review the results and share with our entire school community to inform needed changes for the upcoming school year.  Thank you for taking time to provide us with your valuable feedback.



MIS Teachers Work with Lake|Flato architects

Lake|Flato architects asked teachers to do some “out of the box” thinking during their first visit to MIS. They explored many different arrangements for the new school facility on diagrams of the actual site. Sticky notes, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, and packaging materials instantly became trees, playground structures, classrooms, bridges, and more.

MIS Chooses Architect for New School Plan

julie & rizzoMIS is thrilled to announce its project architect, Lake|Flato out of San Antonio, TX.   We considered several very qualified firms both locally and far and wide, but Lake|Flato easily rose to the top of the list for MIS based on their experience and responsiveness to meeting our project’s goals.

Consider this: the firm has a staff of 89 including 31 registered architects, 42 LEED accredited professionals, and a sustainability manager and coordinator.  Lake|Flato is an innovative and well-respected firm who has worked with dozens of independent schools.

    • Lake|Flato has been honored with over 200 design awards, including the American Institute of Architects Firm of the Year Award in 2004.
    • In 2013, Fast Company named Lake|Flato one of the Ten Most Innovative Architecture Firms in the World.
    • The firm also received the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture.
    • In 2015 Lake|Flato placed 6th in Architect Magazine’s 2015 Top 50 — an annual ranking of the best U.S. firms.

Slide1Many of the firm’s designs that we shared at the January parent meeting are included below.  Teachers at the Indian Springs School in Indian Springs, Alabama, praised the new classrooms recently designed by Lake|Flato for the beautiful natural lighting and the new panel technology for visual learning.  One student had this to say, “The new buildings themselves are having a revitalizing effect on students as well as teachers.  While our other buildings were satisfactory, the new classrooms allow both students and teachers to spread our wings so much more.”

Lake|Flato  will work with the guiding principles we developed last spring as a school community to create a the best possible school for MIS. These guiding principles are:

Active Learning Opportunities
Flexible Space and Time
Visible Learning

Slide12 Slide11


Head of School Corner: Important and Exciting News from MIS

Dear MIS families,

   We are pleased to write to you today to let you know that we have secured a site where we can pursue our dream of building a permanent home for MIS.
After much negotiation, Board President, Norm Williamson has signed a purchase sale agreement for a property at 800 South Third West – currently the site of the Hive and formerly the ProBuild site.
   This site has all of the features that our community has identified as important to consider when finding a new home. It is a little over 4 acres- this is almost twice the size of our current 2.2 acres at Prescott and it is much larger than the 1.8 acres available at the Sawmill District. It provides ample room to build a cutting edge educational facility, with plenty of room for green space and engaging outdoor play areas. The site is right in the center of the McCormick Park neighborhood, has easy access to biking and walking corridors and trails, access to the Downtown and University areas while also being tucked away into an established neighborhood where our students can feel safe and at home.
   Now the fun begins!  The contract negotiated gives MIS 120 days to conduct due diligence to ensure the site will meet our needs. This period of time will allow MIS to further its work on the financing front and raise additional capital to complete the project.
We will also select an architect and contractor to get schematic drawings developed so we can determine our final budget. The work the MIS community engaged in last spring during our design process will guide the development of MIS’s new home. Opportunities to engage our community during the schematic design phase will be plentiful.
   The Board and I are eager to continue our work and will strive to meet our goal to move into a new building the fall of 2017.  We will keep you updated and informed as this project unfolds and develops. Check out the location on a map at this link.
In this season of thanks, we are very grateful for each one of you and your support for the school.
 Warm regards and many thanks on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees,
Emily Richardson, Vice President and Julie Lennox, Head of School

CTA Design Workshop Highlights

Watch parents, students, and teachers interact and share ideas during the final CTA design workshop in May: