School district facilities upgrades planning in full swing

CBCS construction slated for 2024 

By Kendra Walker

The Gunnison Watershed School District bond capital improvements project is well underway, and during the September 11 school board meeting board members received an update from John Usery of Artaic, the district’s owner’s representative, regarding the work in progress. 

The district-wide $101 million facilities improvements project was passed by voters last year to address safety and security, overcrowding, efficiency/maintenance and vocational programming needs across school district buildings. Crested Butte Community School is slated for the addition of 12 classrooms, removal of the modular classrooms, added cafeteria seating, new folding partition, new stage area and music room, separation of the elementary administration from the secondary school administration and improved security of drop-off parking, playground and outdoor spaces. The CBCS improvements are currently budgeted for $55 million and account for 54% of the district-wide project. 

Usery shared that in working with the bond project executive committee, five principles have been created to guide the improvements project, including Safety and Security, Health, Promote Inspired and Engage Learning, Effective Financial Stewardship, and Sustainability and Maintenance.

“These guiding principles are going to be hugely important,” said Usery. “We will continue to communicate these as priorities for the school district and this project.”

He shared that the five Design Advisory Groups (DAG) have begun meeting and have been going well. “We really appreciate everyone’s involvement in making this a community effort,” he said.

With DAG meetings underway, Usery said architectural firm TreanorHL will now begin working on the project’s schematic designs, slated for completion later this year. He said that the summary of improvements and budget breakdown remain the same for now but may change once the schematic designs come into play. “We will have to potentially reprioritize the scope based on what we’re seeing for costs,” he said, noting that labor is the main component currently driving costs in the construction market. “Once we get cost estimates we’ll detail these components further.”

Artaic and the district are currently keeping an eye on several risks related to the project, including hazardous materials in some of the older buildings, long lead times for mechanical, electrical and playground equipment, labor availability and phasing the construction so that it does not disrupt learning environments. “We want to facilitate active learning at each school during the construction of these improvements,” said Usery. 

Artaic is also working on analyzing all existing mechanical systems to make sure they meet the district’s needs. The district has begun coordinating for a BEST grant application due in February 2024 to target security improvements and mechanical upgrades. The district is also regularly meeting with the town of Crested Butte to collaborate on the CBCS improvements and impacts to the Red Lady Ave. and Highway 135 intersection improvements. 

Finally, Usery shared that construction and facilities improvements will be staggered over the course of the next three years, with CBCS construction anticipated to begin summer 2024. 

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