Two Rivers school secures $10M for building project
Two Rivers Community School has finalized a deal that will allow it to buy the building it has occupied for two years and embark on an $8.4 million renovation and new preschool/kindergarten addition.
The governing board that oversees the K-8 state charter school, and the officers of a separately formed building corporation, on Friday approved a plan to issue $10 million in bonds to pay for the project.
As a public charter, the school itself cannot borrow money, so the separate corporation had to be formed to receive the funds, explained Adriana Ayala-Hire, director of business and outreach for TRCS.
The school, which focuses on bilingual education and project-based learning serving students from both the Roaring Fork Re-1 and Garfield Re-2 school districts, is now in its third year.
About $1.6 million of the bond funds will go to purchase the former U.S. Postal Service mail sorting warehouse and surrounding 2.3 acres of property at 195 Center Drive in West Glenwood that the school has leased for the past two years.
“Being able to get lenders behind our project speaks volumes, and says we’ve passed the test,” Ayala-Hire said. “We’re not just an experiment, we’re here to stay.”
The addition will allow the school to add a preschool program, plus two additional kindergarten classes and one additional first- and sixth-grade class each as well, increasing the student enrollment from about 230 now to around 300, she said.
The building project calls for a complete remodel of the existing, 21,000-square-foot building with new interior walls to create 15 classrooms, science and art classrooms, and a new office area.
What used to be the loading dock bay doors are to be replaced with new, roll-up glass doors opening onto a south-facing outdoor deck that can be used for outdoor activities.
The new 8,500-square-foot addition to the east of the existing building will accommodate two kindergarten classrooms and one classroom to house a new preschool program for up to 16 students to start. The addition will also include restroom facilities and a full-service kitchen and multi-purpose space.
Site improvements will include a 31-space parking lot and dedicated student drop-off and pick-up lane on the south side of the building. The existing playground structure will also be relocated.
“This is an exciting new chapter for the charter school, and we’re all very excited to get this project started,” Melody Massih Olszewski, who is president of the school’s board, said.
“It will allow us to have a new facility with bigger classrooms and more light to support our programs,” she said. “It’s great for the school, and the teachers and the kids deserve this.”
Unlike school district-supported public schools, charter schools are not able to go to voters to tap local property taxes to pay for facilities. Instead, charters derive most of their operational funding from the per-pupil tax dollars they receive from the state.
The TRCS charter is also up for renewal before the Colorado Charter School Institute this coming year. The building expansion was necessary to support a request to increase enrollment.
The building and land purchase is scheduled to close next week, and building design plans are to be finalized by December. Project ground-breaking is being planned for February, Ayala-Hire said.
The school is also raising money separately for some things that weren’t included in the bond funding, such as furniture and computers, she said.
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