Board may ask for as much as $30 million
Faced with burgeoning classroom needs, escalating construction costs and a dilapidated 42-year-old high school, the Gunnison REIJ school board has begun preparation for a capital improvements bond initiative for the election in November 2008.
According to Gunnison school district acting superintendent Jon Nelson, capital improvements of district facilities are long overdue.
“We have two modulars [temporary buildings] at Crested Butte Community School and we’ll need one more next year if projected enrollment holds,” he says.
“It doesn’t seem like a good use of our financial resources to keep putting modulars on the ground,” he adds.
Nelson also says modular buildings at the Gunnison Valley School are outdated and the Gunnison High School can no longer keep up with the technical advances necessary for a modern educational facility. Moreover, Nelson says, the bus barn is inadequate.
“Once you get a bus in there, you can’t even move around,” he says.
New school board member Jim Perkins, who is a former principal of the Gunnison Elementary School, says growing district enrollment and aging facilities will require improvements and expansion.
“The Gunnison Community School has been using two modulars for 10 years,” he says.
He noted that the district’s newest facilities—the Crested Butte Community School and the Gunnison Elementary School—are already 10 years old.
“Now there are technology needs that weren’t even dreamed of at the time the schools were built,” he says.
Bill Powell, who is also new to the school board, says he recognizes the need to upgrade facilities, but he says the board hasn’t yet decided on a dollar amount for the bond.
“We are going to have a retreat soon on that very question,” he says. “The facilities need upgrades. The exact extent and nature of those needs have to be determined by this board,” he says.
Perkins and Powell were seated at the November 12 meeting. The school district is seeking a third new member, who the board hopes to appoint at their next meeting on November 26.
Board members also chose George K. Baum and Co. as their bond counsel at the November 12 meeting. The company will act as an advisor to the board on policy formation in addition to underwriting the bond. The board will also make use of the company’s election consultants to help them shepherd the bond initiative through next year’s election.
According to the company website, the financial services company, whose main office is based in Kansas City, Mo., has been involved in more than 90 successful bond elections in Colorado in the last 15 years.
The cost of the bond counsel will be based on the scope of its services, which, according to school board president Anne Hausler, will be determined in the next few weeks.
The school board considered floating the bond issue this November, but board members felt they needed more time to assess their needs and prepare for an election.
Gunnison school district design consultants have estimated the total cost of all necessary new construction and upgrades could be more than $30 million.