Glenwood Elementary plan keeps original building
Roaring Fork School District is looking to the state to help pay for a $26.6 million, 79,800-square-foot overhaul of Glenwood Springs Elementary School.
It’s a move that’s key to Glenwood Springs’ hope to develop the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers as a new residential and retail area.
In February, the district applied for $8.8 million from the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant program, which draws funding from state land trust, Colorado lottery spillover and marijuana excise taxes.
If it gets the grant, RFSD will still need to raise $17.8 million to make the project a reality, but the remake is well overdue.
“We’ve got an aging facility with major roofing issues, it’s been a long time since there were any major renovations and from a safety standpoint the fact that the elementary is in several different buildings is also an area of concern,” said RFSD Chief Financial Officer Shannon Pelland.
A tentative site plan submitted with the grant application envisions new wings of the elementary school designed around a central courtyard. The original 1921 building, which once was Garfield County High School, would remain intact. Several newer additions would be torn down.
The design takes advantage of the city’s developing plan for the confluence area, which could involve a land swap with city property south of the school and district fields to the north.
“The timing, I think, is good because we wanted to make sure that whatever we were doing with the Glenwood Elementary site would fit well with what’s going on with the confluence plan,” Pelland said. “We sort of looked at the entire parcel — the current elementary site and the city-owned property — as one big blank slate.”
In the option submitted to BEST, fields to the north would become housing, while parking and drop-off moves south of the school. The extra space also gives a little wiggle room to keep the school running during the construction process, probably with the assistance of a few modular units.
Recognition of the need to update the school dates to at least the last Facilities Master Plan process in 2003.
“It was identified as needing a major overhaul, but the work was so significant that we decided to postpone it for what we thought would be another five years,” Pelland said.
Then the recession hit, and the money just wasn’t there.
“We are significantly over the amount of time we expected this building to have to hang on,” she said.
Now, Pelland says, the school is a top priority.
Funding will still be a challenge. Although GSES is the only Roaring Fork Valley school seeking a BEST grant this year, it’s a competitive program with only around $50 million up for grabs.
Pelland is cautiously optimistic.
“It’s a big ask, but we feel like we had very strong application,” she said.
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