Relatively optimistic administrators

[  By Kendra Walker  ]

On Monday, July 18, the Gunnison Watershed School District Board of Trustees reviewed and discussed details of a potential November Ballot Bond Issue that would help fund building improvements throughout the district. The total cost of the project is $101,000,274, for a bond issue of about $89 million, and the school board will decide on August 8 whether the project should go to voters this year.

The main priorities of the project are to improve the safety and security of all building entrances, address capacity and overcrowding issues with expanded facilities, and improve building maintenance for savings and sustainability at long term.

The $101 million takes into account estimated project costs from 2021, with 20% added for inflation this year. At current rates, if passed, the requirement would increase taxes by about $200 per year for every $500,000 of residential value. Superintendent Dr. Leslie Nichols explained that there may be further adjustments between now and the Aug. 8 meeting, when the board votes.

Council Chair Tyler Martineau noted that the current scope and cost of the project is quite similar to what was presented to council earlier this year, with two additions: $2 million to improve the intersection of the Route 135 and Red Lady Avenue, and $1 million for a building. renovation of the Marble Charter School.

Highway 135 Intersection

The City of Crested Butte, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), and the school district received a Civil Engineers cost estimate of $4 million to construct a roundabout at the intersection of Highway 135 and Red Lady Ave.

“This intersection is one component of a larger transportation plan the city is working on,” Nichols said. “If we expand, the intersection will have to be improved to complete the project…the school is a part of this intersection…the city owns it and they are really happy to have us as collaborators. We have talked about it and we will share these costs.

“The town of Crested Butte has had issues with this intersection for a long time for reasons other than school,” Martineau said. “For the sake of this bond effort, we invested 50% of that $4 million. But we don’t really know what it’s going to be, it’s hard to know exactly how it’s going to play out.

Marble Charter School

Another number in the increased bond proposal relates to Marble Charter School. The school acquired a historic 3,800 square foot building in Marble. “There is going to be a major need for renovation and upgrading,” explained Martineau.

Take away food

The board also reviewed the draft ballot wording and all agreed that the language should convey and highlight the district’s needs for safety and security upgrades, additional space and the interview.

“It’s the only way to improve capital in schools in Colorado, and most schools, to get into debt and get our community members to pay down the debt over time. It’s going to be tough to get past this given what’s going on,” Nichols said. It’s going to be hard, it’s a difficult climate to raise taxes.

“I think $200 per $500,000 valuation is a reasonable request,” said board treasurer Dave Taylor. “It’s an environmental issue. Our County and our representatives at Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte and our County Commissioners take the environment very seriously. It’s one of the most important environments we can control here in Gunnison County.

“If it doesn’t pass, what can we do? asked board member Mandy Roberts. “If it doesn’t pass and those things need to be done.”

“Ultimately, we’ll have to come back to voters until it passes,” Martineau said.

“We will continue to operate our schools and we will continue to open…it all remains as we are doing now, which is with a level of frustration, which is concerning,” Nichols said. “We are not going to stop educating our children, but we are going to do it at a level that could be better.”

“I’m optimistic I think we can do it,” board member Anne Brookhart said of the link’s passing. “He is needed. I think it’s a good plan, it’s a good request.

“I’m relatively optimistic and that’s because of the processes we’ve already been through,” board member LeeAnn Mick said.

“I hope all of us as board members can support this development,” Brookhart said.