Ross Montessori building is ‘on time and on budget’
A year after securing the land for its new building, Ross Montessori is well on its way to making a decadelong dream a reality.
Thanks to a $6.4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, the new 19,000-square-foot facility in Carbondale is well under way and on track for completion in December.
“We’re in really good shape,” said Ross Development Director Tricia Williams. “It’s on time and on budget.”
If all goes well, move in is planned for the beginning of second semester in January.
“It’ll be a transition for the students,” Williams said. “It’s going to be like the first day of school all over again, but it’s really going to be exciting. The kids are just thrilled.”
“They deserve it,” she added. “They’ve worked hard and done really well in the old building. Now they get to feel like they’re in a real school.”
Since its inception, the free and public state charter school has occupied a series of remarkably welcoming but less-than-ideal modular facilities on Merrill Avenue.
The new building under construction on a 2.73-acre parcel just off Highway 133 is something else. The first phase comes with classrooms tailored for Maria Montessori’s education model — L shaped with sinks, high ceilings, operable windows and space for groups of various sizes.
“When you walk in, you don’t see the whole classroom right away,” Williams said. “It leaves some parts of the room for discovery.”
Plans are already in place for phase two, which includes a full cafeteria, auditorium and a gymnasium. Until money can be found, though, a multipurpose central space will fill several roles.
Thanks to a $75,000 Community Office for Resource Efficiency grant, the building sports a 40-kilowatt solar array and 95 percent LED lighting — more than enough to meet International Green Code standards that Carbondale requires. The design also takes advantage of natural light and is designed for low maintenance with double insulation and sturdy finishes.
Already, the new school seems to be bringing new life to the alternative public school. Enrollment is up to a cozy 267 from 240 last year.
“We haven’t had wait lists in the past, so I definitely think the shiny new building is bringing people to us,” Williams said.
The increase also means that the school will be at capacity at move in, so work has begun on two classrooms from phase two, with the potential for more in the future. The school is also working on a possible Great Outdoors Colorado grant for the playground.
The building loan came via the Rural Development Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Williams hopes that interest in the curriculum is as great as in the new building.
“I really see a lot of benefits in the way Montessori cultivates leadership and problem solving. These students develop all these skills without even know they’re doing it,” she said. “We’ve got quite a gem here to have this public Montessori available to everybody.”
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.