EAGLE, Colorado " The Eagle County Board of Education said Wednesday the new Battle Mountain High School campus in Edwards should open its doors three and a half months ahead of schedule this fall.
Battle Mountain will not only open ahead of schedule, but also within its $64.6 million budget.
"This work was done in one of the toughest times I think we'll see in terms of inflation," said Scott Green, president of the Eagle County school board. "(Adolfson and Peterson Construction) were able to reel this in and keep control of the prices and get us in on a budget, and that's remarkable."
The school was originally scheduled to open "sometime in the fall," school officials had said before Wednesday's announcement, with students likely moving in around Christmas break.
Adolfson and Peterson Construction began looking at ways to accelerate the project about eight months ago, said Tim Brekel of ARC Integrated Program Management, a project consultant.
The contractors were able to speed things along and maintain the integrity of the whole facility, said Andy Arnold, school board member.
The school board hopes to put Battle Mountain on the same school calendar as Eagle Valley High School, meaning it would open Sept. 22 rather than in early September. That would give the builders an extra couple of weeks to get everything ready for the first day of school.
The school board hopes to be able to finalize that schedule by the next board meeting in two weeks, said Sandra Smyser, Eagle County School District superintendent. The school board also hopes to have a schedule in place so Battle Mountain's fall sports teams know where they'll be practicing come August. If the new campus's fields aren't ready before the first day of school, the athletes would likely practice at the old school, she said.
The new school replaces the Eagle-Vail campus, which was built in 1973. The Edwards campus will be about one and a half times larger than the current school, and it features many new amenities for students, such as a high-tech wood shop, industrial kitchen for the school's award-winning culinary arts program, video production facilities, an auditorium that seats more than 450 people, two gymnasiums and multiple outdoor athletic fields.
The architect, H + L Architects out of Denver, has been working with the contractors and various community members, the school board, faculty, the school resource officer and even Battle Mountain students from the beginning of the design process, said John Fuentes, the project architect with H + L. They wanted the people who would be using the building to have input in the way it would turn out.
"One of the major things that we do is design for the users," he said. "We're not imposing our ego and thinking we know everything that's going to work."
Fuentes said his firm didn't want to force any city design on the Vail Valley project, but rather keep it connected to its surroundings and the history of the area.
Going back to the old ranching history in the valley, the architects used simple materials like metal panels, concrete blocks and natural stone, Fuentes said.
In keeping with the outdoor mountain lifestyle here, Fuentes said every classroom in the school has natural light coming in through large windows. Fuentes said the architects also wanted to keep the building as green as possible.
While the school board didn't shoot for a costly LEED certification, a national green building standard, it did work with the architects and contractors to build everything as earth-friendly as possible. Fuentes said he thinks the project could even meet LEED standards once it's all said and done because "we always design to that level as much as we can."
The new campus will be the newest addition to the sprawling campuses of K-12 schools and Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. It was one of many school projects voters approved on the November 2006 ballot for a $128 million school bond.
Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org