Re-2 officials to decide on construction schedule for project at Cactus Valley Elementary School |

Re-2 officials to decide on construction schedule for project at Cactus Valley Elementary School

Cactus Valley Elementary School in Silt. Ray K. Erku / Citizen Telegram

Funding and schedule issues related to an upcoming construction project primarily centered on fixing first-floor infrastructure at Cactus Valley Elementary School have left Re-2 officials wondering what their best course of action will be moving forward.

The Re-2 school board on Monday learned the district is eligible to receive up to a $2.1 million BEST grant from the Colorado Department of Education to help defray costs for the estimated $5.65 million project, which is set to fix a number of issues caused by slab settlement. Cactus Valley Elementary School, located in Silt, was fully constructed in 2007 — for $16.5 million.

The district, however, is not certain the grant — which they applied for Feb. 5 — will be approved by the state. This leaves the question of whether the district moves forward with preliminary project procedures or wait until they find out if the grant will be approved, which won’t likely happen until late May.

“That’s, in large part, the delay in the start of the project,” Re-2 Director of Communications/Grants Theresa Hamilton said. “If we’re allowed in May, we would not have access to the money until the first of July and that’s a really short window to start the project.”

So far, the design segment of the project is scheduled for summer 2021 to spring 2022. Once architectural and engineering procedures are finalized, early bidding and procurement stages will occur between spring 2022 and end of school 2022. Phases one and two of construction will then occur — while school is out — in the summers of 2022 and 2023.

As to how the grant works, the school would initially borrow funds and then be reimbursed afterward. If the district is awarded the grant, they would only be responsible for defraying about $3.5 million.

In addition to whether the district receives the grant, however, the school board is also left with the question of whether they want to intersperse construction into respective time intervals. If construction starts then ceases year to year, the district could incur additional costs related to material inflation and mobilization.

Director of Facilities John Oldham said that mobilization alone costs up to 15% of the total project. This means the district could see an additional cost of around $850,000, if they decide to approve construction for two summer periods.

Cactus Valley has 418 students, the highest number of any elementary school in the district. The other possible alternative to completing construction with the aim of avoiding further cost would be to essentially have those kids learn elsewhere, which board members agreed would be “very disruptive.”

“You’re talking about pulling kids out of a school that they’ve gone to for four or five years and sending them to somewhere else for three months,” Oldham said.

So far, however, the structural integrity of Cactus Valley is still intact.

“We’ve had three different structural engineers saying the building’s safe to be in,” Oldham said.

Oldham suggested the district first wait to see if they receive the grant, then work out construction schedules afterward.

Once cemented, the project’s general scope includes raising the existing slab on the first floor, demolishing and replacing an interior slab at the kitchen and interior bathrooms and removing and replacing all existing flooring finishes, among other plans.

“Any way you look at it, $5.6 million is a lot of money,” board member Tom Slappey said. “BEST grant or not, we’ve got a problem that has to be addressed.”

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