Re-1 approves $86 million facilities plan |

Re-1 approves $86 million facilities plan

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The Roaring Fork School Board approved a five-year, $86 million plan for building construction at Wednesday’s meeting. The plan includes building two new high schools and renovating eight schools, and either constructing or remodeling six district administration buildings.

“It’s so comprehensive,” said board member Susan Hakanson. “This is a living document that serves us so well.”

The plan is the culmination of 10 months of research, meetings and dialogue generated by RTA Architects Inc. of Colorado Springs. It details the current and future status of the district’s school and administration buildings – and which will need to be remodeled and repaired, or completely demolished and replaced to adequately accommodate future student populations and staff.

Pat Ziuchkovski, a partner at RTA Architects, presented the final version at Wednesday’s meeting, explaining that the firm worked with committees of parents, teachers and other interested community members from Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt.

RTA compiled a preliminary plan and presented it to the school board last spring. The final plan presented and approved at Wednesday’s meeting contained modifications from the first plan.

More than $5 million will be spent on district support buildings, such as a new bus barn between Carbondale and Basalt, and improvements at the Career Center in Glenwood.

Basalt’s three schools will see a total of more than $13 million in improvements.

Plans are to demolish both the upper elementary and red brick buildings, and renovate the lower elementary school building.

Basalt Middle School will gain a music room, computer lab and media center.

Basalt High School will grow its capacity from 403 students to 535 with an addition of 12,500 square feet of classroom space, and completion of the Field of Dreams sports complex.

In Carbondale, plans are to spend more than $25 million on improvements.

Instead of Carbondale’s two small existing elementary schools, Crystal River Elementary will be more than tripled in size from its present 19,600 square feet to 67,800 square feet. It would house grades 1-4.

Bridges High School, now operating in borrowed spaces in Glenwood Springs, would move to the Carbondale Elementary building, sharing it with a new community center.

Carbondale Middle School will take fifth- through eighth-graders, and move to the current Roaring Fork High School site with structural upgrades.

And Roaring Fork High School will be moved to a new school site on the 24-acre North Face property, increasing student capacity from 403 to 580.

Glenwood Springs’ four schools will receive more than $42 million in improvements.

At Glenwood Springs Elementary, the Bolitho and annex buildings will be demolished and replaced by a new two-story addition to the existing historical building, adding 40,000 square feet to the current building’s 30,000 square feet.

At Sopris Elementary, eight new classrooms will be added.

Glenwood Springs Middle School gains six substantial upgrades, including a new running track surface, air conditioning for the computer rooms, and a media center.

The single largest expense of the new plan, at $30 million, is a major renovation of Glenwood Springs High School. Most of the existing building would be replaced or renovated to near-new condition. The new expansion will be built to accommodate 1,000 students in the future. The current school currently houses 811 students.

Superintendent Fred Wall said estimates regarding funding the districts’ new construction projects are ready, but cautioned that these early figures are preliminary.

“These are our first projections,” Wall said. “They’re just our estimates and may change.”

Based on these early figures, the approximately $86 million needed to complete the master plan may cost a homeowner with a house worth $100,000 in the Re-1 district roughly $70 in property tax a year. For a business owner with a property worth $100,000, that figure would be about $250 a year.

There’s a ways to go before property owners will see any increase in taxes, though.

First, voters will need to approve a bond issue and a tax increase to repay it. The earliest a bond issue could go to a vote is November 2004.

District officials have said they may also seek a second mill levy override at the same time to cover increased operating costs.

And there’s a lot of work to do between now and then, said RTA’s Pat Ziuchkovski, to ensure the public is willing to foot the bill.

“You need to make sure everyone knows what will be done with these schools and that everybody buys into it,” he advised the school board Wednesday. “That time can fly by unless you have a plan to get there, month by month.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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