Steamboat’s school bond question one of only a few across Colorado

Teresa Ristow
This rendering shows how a new high school might look if voters approve a $92 million bond question being asked by the Steamboat Springs School District this November.
Courtesy Photo

Brighton 27J

High school: $89.5 million

Two new elementary schools: $22 million and $25 million

Elementary school completion: $6.6 million

New middle school: $55 million

Renovations/expansions at five other schools: $30.37 million

Plus additional renovations, improvements at 14 schools

Total cost: $248 million

Steamboat Springs

New high school: $71.8 million

Existing high school renovation, maintenance: $8 million

Middle school renovation to become elementary, maintenance: $7 million

Strawberry Park renovations, maintenance: $4.3 million

Soda Creek renovations, maintenance: $761,000

Total cost: $92 million

Roaring Fork Valley

New PK-8: $34.4 million

Renovation/new addition at elementary: $29 million

Teacher and staff housing: $15 million

Land for future school: $1.5 million

Plus other renovations and upgrades districtwide

Total cost: $137 million, total cost to voters: $122 million

— The Steamboat Springs School District’s proposed $92 million bond question is one of only a handful of school improvement bonds totaling about $500 million that will go before Colorado voters this November.

That amount is in sharp contrast to 2014, when more than 20 districts across Colorado sought about $1.5 billion in property tax increases. About half of those bonds passed.

The largest question in 2015 is a $248 million bond proposed by the Brighton 27J School District to fund the construction of a new high school, new middle school and two elementary schools to house students in the rapidly expanding district, which has grown from 5,000 to 17,000 students during the past 15 years.

A $122 million bond question in the Roaring Fork Valley would pay for a new preschool to eighth-grade campus, $15 million in teacher and staff housing and an elementary school addition, in addition to other renovations and new construction.

Roaring Fork’s upgrades would total about $137 million, but the district is projecting $16 million in bond premium and only asking voters for the total cost less the premium.

“Roaring Fork, it’s a similar size, with similar tax impacts,” said Jeff Chamberlin, principal for RLH Engineering and Steamboat Springs School District’s owner’s representative.

Chamberlin said comparisons can be drawn between the three bonds, but ultimately price-per-square-foot of new construction and remodeling stack up pretty evenly.

“I’ve visited with both of them, and everybody is at the same place for cost per square foot,” Chamberlin said.

As a comparison, Brighton’s proposed new 250,000-square-foot high school would cost $89.5 million, while Steamboat’s proposed new 205,000-square-foot high school would cost $71.8 million.

Rough math reveals Brighton’s cost per square foot of the new high school is about $358, while Steamboat’s new high school would cost about $350 per square foot.

Those amounts include hard construction costs and soft costs, such as paying an architect and engineer and furnishing the buildings with desks and chairs.

Construction costs alone for either school are about $300 per square foot, Chamberlin said. Brighton’s slightly higher cost might be attributed to more utilities and communal areas for the 1,600-student capacity school.

As an example, the school might have a larger kitchen or auditorium, Chamberlin said.

Chamberlin said the small number of bond questions going to voters this November is characteristic of an off-year election.

He said several school districts already are in discussions for putting questions on the 2016 ballot.

More details about the projects associated with Steamboat’s bond can be found at or at A detailed breakdown of the Brighton bond is available at and details about the Roaring Fork Valley bond are available at

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

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