RFSD News column: Roaring Fork Schools complete bond projects on time and on budget | PostIndependent.com

RFSD News column: Roaring Fork Schools complete bond projects on time and on budget

Jeff Gatlin

Just over three years after voters approved a $122 million bond for the Roaring Fork Schools, the district has completed almost 20 construction projects on time and on budget. Because of this community investment and short construction time line, students, staff and community members are already enjoying the new and improved spaces.

We are fortunate to have communities that wanted improved facilities and then supported that goal through the bond measure. It started in 2014, when the Roaring Fork Schools heard from over 1,400 community members through the visioning process that a top priority was facilities improvements and upgrades.

Following up on that process in 2015, we asked our community for specific input regarding our facilities and heard from hundreds of community members what specifically they wanted to see in facility upgrades and improvements. This feedback was used to develop the facilities master plan, which was used to create the list of projects included in the bond. Then in November 2015, voters passed a bond measure to support the facilities upgrades and improvements they wanted to see for our district.

Bond improvements touched every community. While the overall project list is lengthy, the bond included modernizations to all of our facilities to create more 21st century learning environments, increase the energy efficiency through systems and infrastructure upgrades, and add security vestibules and safety upgrades for all schools.

Some of the highlights included building Riverview School, a new PreK-8 school serving Glenwood Springs; renovating and adding to Glenwood Springs Elementary School; major renovations in Basalt High School, Basalt Middle School, Red Brick at Basalt Elementary School, Carbondale Middle School, Bridges High School, Sopris Elementary School, Glenwood Springs Middle School and Glenwood Springs High School; and two new transportation centers.

The district also acquired land for a future school site to accommodate growth in Basalt. A full list of all projects included in the bond program can be found here.

Included in the bond program were 66 units of housing in an effort to make living in the Roaring Fork Valley more affordable for our teachers and other staff members. Approving staff housing in a bond measure was an innovative approach to addressing this challenge.

We are grateful that our community identified retaining and recruiting staff as an important strategic priority — with affordable staff housing being a major obstacle — and then supported that in the bond measure.

The scope of the work completed in just over 36 months was extensive. We were able to get this amount of work down because of the district’s fiscal leadership.

The district leveraged taxpayer dollars to get an additional $10.1 million in grant funding to support facility upgrades and improvements. Additionally, by using bond dollars to add sustainable features and increase the energy efficiency of systems, we have reduced operating costs.

Another critical factor in being able to complete this work on such a short time line was our school community’s flexibility and patience. Our staff, parents, and students endured daily inconveniences during construction.

We are grateful for everyone’s patience and support throughout the construction process and are excited that our new and improved facilities are being used by our schools and community.

Jeff Gatlin is chief operating officer for Roaring Fork Schools.

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