The district will not be seeking additional bond or tax increases, however, to recover an estimated $2 million that will be needed to build the athletic wing, including a full-court gymnasium, at the proposed middle/high school site. That money will be raised with privately donated funds, and the existing gym at the old school will continue to be utilized until the money is raised, according to Project Oversight Committee Spokesman Andy Mueller.
The project involves two principal efforts: The new middle/high school and commons to be situated at the north end of Ridgway by the Eagle Hill Ranch subdivision, and the renovation of the existing school building, which was constructed in 1972, for grades K-6. The school complex contains a two-story layout which will still allow for a stacking of three or more additional classrooms several years later "without major configuration of the floor plan," said Mueller.
Citing a "growing number of weaknesses" in the original design presented in August, 2003, by the Strategic Planning Committee, Mueller explained to members of the public in attendance the revised plan for the construction project and the factors that contributed to the $2 million budget override: The committee increased the classroom floor sizes by about 100-150 square feet per room, a 17 percent increase, or an additional 8,000 square feet, to 58,000; and a slightly larger gymnasium than what was contemplated by the earlier recommendations. "We cannot build a gym that only works today versus 15 years from now," added Mueller.
The costs of building materials, including steel, concrete and plywood have increased substantially since the beginning of the year (with steel surging 90 percent), a major contributing factor to the override. "We are shooting for an exterior of long-lasting durable metal and concrete that is impervious to weather" that "will be the cornerstone of our school's future growth," said Mueller.
Another unanticipated cost factor came when core tests did not go deep enough, so that the extra cost of extracting several hundred yards of the water-soluble salt situated more than seven feet below the surface from a deposit which traverses along the route where the access road is to be built were not anticipated. The hole will be filled with soil obtained from the hillside, where the school will be notched in, at an added expense of $150,000 (easement restrictions from the Town of Ridgway preclude the option of relocating the access road to the school). "The base of road and infrastructure also added to the cost," said Mueller.
The design incorporates passive solar, and energy efficiency and aesthetic concepts to minimize heating and air conditioning expenses and promote "good learning " within a "disciplined, safe and nurturing environment," said Mueller. Additional wiring and hardening of the proposed new building will be included, thus enabling any additional classrooms deemed necessary in coming years to be attached to the main structure, at minimum cost.
"What we do build needs to last for a maximum educational opportunity, keeping future capitalization costs as low as possible," said Mueller.
The existing school will have the cafeteria enlarged, expanded kitchen capacity and a raised ceiling "to make it a more user-friendly space and higher" than its current height of not quite nine feet, said Mueller.
In addition: "Fresh air will be pumped into the classrooms, and $150,000 will be spent on light and electrical upgrades."
With the modular classrooms removed, a preschool will be inserted on the floor space that now occupies the north portion of the existing library. The kindergarten facility will replace the tech center, and special needs students will be taught next door. Doors will be recessed to comply with fire code regulations. While 94 paved spaces for parking are allocated, there will be overflow capability up to 300 if necessary.