The cheap option at $35 million
By Mark Reaman
Discussions about a future expansion for the Crested Butte Community School are continuing, with the focus turning to adding on to the current building and keeping the CBCS a true K-12 community school.
A public engagement meeting was held Tuesday, May 19 and school board members Tyler Martineau and Courtney Fullmer directed conversation toward the least expensive option discussed at previous meetings. The so-called “Option A” would add several expansion pieces onto the existing building and still cost about $35 million. While taking away open space from the current campus, it would accommodate about 1,200 students, which is expected to serve the population for 10 more years. The current building has already reached capacity. Everyone appeared to agree the biggest downside would be an increase in traffic and congestion in an already congested area. Martineau said those issues were “solvable but definitely a challenge.”
Martineau explained that the school district had retained RTA Architects of Colorado Springs into the fall to develop an expansion design for the district campuses. Brian Calhoun of RTA said Option A should last for more than a decade based on current enrollment trends but no one knew for sure what enrollment would be in the future, especially under current circumstances.
Fullmer said the concept of maintaining a true community school campus was important and, in her research, it provided many benefits. She said many other schools were trying to return to such a K-12 community campus.
Under the current timeline, RTA would finish an expansion design this fall. The school district would then evaluate the plans and determine how best to approach voters for a bond issue in 2021 to pay for the expansion. Construction at CBCS would be expected to last at least a year and a half. Calhoun admitted in March that students would have to endure the construction process while attending school.
The end result would be much more classroom space, dedicated spaces for features like art, music and industrial arts, and a better entrance in terms of security and administrative offices. Bus drop-off would likely take place along Red Lady Avenue.
“When going to voters it would be great to ask for money to purchase a site outside of Crested Butte that could be used in the future if needed,” said Martineau. “It would be nice to have future land available.”
School district superintendent Leslie Nichols said, “Taking full advantage of our existing property while perhaps acquiring property for future growth might be a good target for this current effort.”
During the Tuesday meeting, several participants relayed the importance of sustainability. Calhoun said it was possible to incorporate more energy-efficient elements into the current building.
“We want public feedback on this recommendation,” emphasized Fullmer. People can view the options and discussion at the school district website.