Roaring Fork Schools christen new facilities, new way to arrive
Tuesday’s “walking school bus” from Two Rivers Park to Glenwood Springs Elementary School ended up being an outdoor classroom of sorts.
“We saw two bald eagles along the river, which we considered to be good luck,” said Jeanine King. She is a learning support teacher at GSES who helped escort students from the off-site bus stop that’s in place while the Grand Avenue bridge detour is in place.
“It was just fantastic,” she said of the walking route along Glenwood’s River Trail, which was lined with stuffed animals of various sorts to help brighten the mood.
Tuesday marked the first day of the 2017-18 school year for Roaring Fork Schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt — a two-week delay from the usual start of school as district officials sought to adjust bus routes and make other modifications to help ease detour traffic.
Public education campaigns urged use of the school bus service instead of having parents drive students to school. The walking school bus greatly reduces the number of buses on the detour route. Both tactics were part of that effort.
The day also marked the official opening of the new Riverview elementary/middle school south of Glenwood, which celebrated with an open house last week.
In addition, there’s a new addition at GSES, where work continues to remodel the original school building at the downtown site on School Street.
GSES students Jerick and brother Jordan Sorensen were hard at work with their dad, Rick Sorensen, serving as crossing guards at the corner of 10th Street and Pitkin Avenue.
“We’re helping kids not get hit by cars,” Jerick Sorensen said. He added he’s excited to have a new school building, though his own class is still in a modular building until the remodel is complete in January.
“I like that there’s more space, and we can expand and not have to be crunched in a modular. I can’t wait,” he said.
Jordan also likes that his school will be less cramped.
“There’s just a lot more space to move around,” he said.
Brian Berg, a fourth-grade teacher as GSES, was stoked to be teaching in a new building that he said fits nicely with the school’s expeditionary learning model.
“I’m so impressed with the design elements, and this big, open common area that we can use to share students and do activities,” Berg said. “Classroom learning is no longer just in the classroom, it’s more about being out and about.”
Students throughout the district arrived at facilities that have undergone extensive remodeling over the summer. That included Glenwood Springs Middle School, which has a complete makeover of the main entryway and commons area.
“It really changes the tone of our school immediately when you walk in,” GSMS Principal Joel Hathaway said. “Just the look on the kids’ faces, it was like Christmas morning, they were so psyched.”
The remodel included new windows, a giant skylight and sliding doors to the exterior, as well as some classroom improvements and new teacher workspaces.
“It gives more of a town square feel to the school, and a place for our student community to gather,” Hathaway said. “One of the things we talked to the students about on the first day was the need to take care of things and keep this wonderful new space clean.”
Similar interior makeovers were completed at Carbondale and Basalt middle schools. Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood also has a variety of improvements and a new playground.
In addition to the ongoing work at Glenwood Elementary, Bridges High School in Carbondale and Basalt High School will remain construction zones for a period of time to start the new school year.
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Current Basalt officials say the town government has violated the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Right by increasing the property tax mill levy over the prior years 10 times since the mid-2000s. Two former mayors contend the mill levy could be adjusted in any given year as long as it didn’t exceed the mill levy in 1994. It’s a $2 million question.