Steamboat Springs School Board hears updates on facility plans

Teresa Ristow

— Discussions are ramping up among Steamboat Springs School District officials, who are preparing for a bond measure as early as this November to fund new school construction.

The school board Monday heard updates from an architect, engineer and bond underwriter hired by the district to guide the process, with cost of construction leading the discussion.

The board received a draft budget from engineer Jeff Chamberlin that began to price out different components of projects to build either a new elementary, new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade building or new high school to address increasing enrollment and needed facility renovations.

“I think we need to take these things home and really study them,” said board president Roger Good.

The draft plan, which will be posted on the district site this week, details projected costs of everything from parking lot pavement to plumbing fixtures at each of the school sites under each of the proposed options.

The numbers don’t sway far from projections made at public meetings over the last several weeks, estimating total costs for a project to build a new elementary at $74 million, a new pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at $77.5 million and a new high school at $102 million.

Each option still has numerous moving parts, and Chamberlin emphasized that the draft budget was preliminary.

“They’re all preliminary; they’re all estimates,” he said.

Board member Scott Bideau said he appreciated the level of detail in the draft plan and didn’t believe the district was rushing the process.

“This really opened my eyes to what type of work we’re doing,” he said. “In general, I’m not seeing a lot of fluff here.”

Chamberlin and architect Matt Porta also discussed a timeline for construction.

If a bond measure to fund the construction were approved this November, construction could begin as early as April and could take between two and three years, depending on the option chosen, Chamberlin said.

Contractors would take advantage of the district’s summer breaks, and construction would halt during district testing windows, Chamberlin said.

The board also heard from bond underwriter Dan O’Connell who reviewed information on potential tax impacts first discussed during a community meeting last week.

O’Connell said that while a lot of groups considering an upcoming ballot measure are waiting until the 2016 presidential year, he wouldn’t advise against the district going to the voters in 2015.

“Given where the economy is at now, and if you have a cohesive plan that’s ready to execute, I really don’t see why you have to wait until 2016,” O’Connell said.

The district is planning an additional public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26 at an undetermined district site to continue discussing the options with the community.

Board members Monday stressed the need to get more of the community to attend the meeting and participate in the process.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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