RIDGWAY – Ridgway Schools Superintendent Cheryl Gomez send out a request Jan. 17 for bids to replace the aging, glass entry doors at the elementary school. “This has been on our radar for years,” she said.
But, “yes, this is a response to the terrible events” in Newtown, Conn.
Bid proposals are due Jan. 31 at 3 p.m., by email, fax, snail mail, or in person.
“We are an intimate community,” Gomez said, “small and rural. How do we maintain that while still having reasonable safeguards so that everyone feels safer?”
The answer, at least a partial answer, according to the school’s administration and board, is to replace three sets of exterior double doors: at the main entry, the doors to the district office, and the doors used for bus riders’ entrance and exit.
The project also envisions remodeling the elementary reception/office area so that a visitor encounters the reception window immediately upon coming into the building. The doors, Gomez estimated, have not been upgraded since the 1990s. The reception/office, which faces the cafeteria and the interior halls of the building, has remained, with its sliding glass window, essentially unchanged since the 1980s.
The upgrades have been “accelerated,” Gomez said following the horrific shooting at a Connecticut elementary school in December. “We hope to get this done as soon as possible. Once the bid process is completed, we hope we can start right away and get this done within the school year.”
Gomez said she estimates the cost for the new doors and the redesign at roughly $15-25,000. “They’ll have to replace the door jams. The new doors will be expensive, but we want to do this right. Ten years down the road we want people to say, ‘They did this right.’
“All of this is, of course, finance-restricted,” she added. “But the board has been supportive” about finding the money. “And we are actually looking for donations” from the community. (Contact Gomez at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970/626-43378.)
The school’s budget, like all school districts, is extremely tight. “We’re still budgeting for the sky to fall,” she said. “Something [major] breaks, and we have [to have the money] to fix it.”
Asked about specifications for the new doors, post-Newtown, Gomez said, “There are state and federal-level pipelines for specs, sources and resources. We’re actually looking at limiting the glass in the new doors.
“In a small school like ours, I am the facility manager as well as the superintendent. I don’t have all the answers. I have to ask for help. But I’m not shy, I do have a relationship with the facility director at Colorado State University, Pueblo, and with someone at Pueblo School District 60.”
And while those are much bigger districts than Ridgway, Gomez said, everyone is in the same boat when it comes to safety.
Elementary School Principal Ted Donahue added: “[The door project] is an evolution of our existing plan to promote safety while at the same time protecting the learning environment we want for all of our students. This is a delicate balance that is important to achieve.”
All bids will be publicly opened and read aloud on Friday, Feb. 1, at 12 p.m.