RE1J moves forward with $89M bond proposal

Ballot language to be determined in August

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

The Gunnison Watershed School District continues to move forward in pursuit of bond funding for districtwide building improvements. During their April 11 meeting, the school board unanimously voted to continue developing a plan for an $89 million proposal (Plan A) over the $75 million option (Plan B), both of which had been refined from last year’s proposed $103 million plan. 

The district will now continue the planning process and the board will vote on specific ballot language in August. Superintendent Dr. Leslie Nichols also noted that there is still flexibility to refine the plan’s scope as needed. The school improvement plan’s top priorities include safety, overcrowding and building efficiency. 

Regarding safety, the entries of all district buildings were designed before the Columbine shooting, and industry standards have evolved significantly since then. 

For overcrowding, Crested Butte Community School is designed for 750 students and is over capacity with 755 students enrolled this year, which is significantly fewer than the past few years. CBCS currently has six modular classrooms and has repurposed storage closets for learning spaces to help accommodate students in the short-term. The proposed Plan A would bring $55.2 million in improvements to CBCS to achieve a 1,000-student building capacity. 

For building efficiency, improvements to classroom temperature controls, insulation and windows will help improve long-term savings on maintenance costs at schools throughout the district. 

Nichols noted that when presenting both Plan A and Plan B to district staff and administration, design advisory teams and community stakeholders, there was broad support for Plan A. “The overwhelming response has been that there’s not really a big difference in cost between the two. What we’re hearing across the board is that people were most comfortable with Plan A.” 

“It’s a tough time to ask people for money,” noted board treasurer Dave Taylor. “I don’t think we’re going to find a good year in the near future.” But he reiterated, “I still think we need to go ahead and get this in front of the voters… There is no reason why Gunnison and Crested Butte shouldn’t have world-class schools.” 

The district also shared in a press release this week that it will be launching a website later this month to include the facilities expansion information and a way for the community to submit feedback or project questions. 

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