School district works on facilities expansion task force

Bond up for consideration this year

[ By Kendra Walker ]

As the Gunnison Watershed School District looks at undertaking a potential $98 million facilities expansion to accommodate a growing student population and need for building upgrades, superintendent Leslie Nichols is putting together a task force to help vet out the design plans, review public input and determine next steps and recommendations for how to proceed.

Based on those recommendations, the school board will make a decision in August whether to include a bond on the November 2021 ballot to help fund the expansion, or wait and pursue a bond in 2022.

Between now and the August decision, the task force will review and vet the facilities expansion plan, develop messaging to educate the community, conduct community webinars in May or June for public feedback, and develop a final recommendation for the board’s consideration regarding a potential November ballot.

The district worked with RTA Architects on the expansion concept designs, which were unveiled in January. The designs were developed based off community and staff feedback over the past year, with proposed improvements to the Crested Butte Community School, Gunnison High School, Gunnison Community School, Lake School and the creation of a district stadium.

During a school board of directors work session on February 22, treasurer Dave Taylor suggested that the district look into hiring an owner’s representative to work on the board’s behalf in the management of the project.

“Typically it would be someone well-versed in construction, architecture and even the financing aspects,” he said. “I want us to think about that owner’s representative earlier rather than later as we look to make things more efficient…this person could be very valuable and could save millions for some very modest upfront dollars.”

“I think that’s an idea worthy of exploring,” agreed Nichols.

The concept designs can be viewed on the district’s website at https://rtaarchitects.com/gwsd-facilities-digital-open-house.

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