Eagle County Charter Academy, turf field both receive funds
The school board decided Wednesday to fund a common building at the Eagle County Charter Academy and artificial turf at the new Battle Mountain High School with unused bond funds.The board room was packed and for hours, the board listened to impassioned arguments from parents believing the charter academy deserved funding, and from those adamantly against giving the school a dime of bond money.Voters approved a $128 million bond in November 2006, which gave the district money to build a new high school and elementary, renovate Eagle Valley High School and upgrade outdated technology in the classrooms.Now, after having a better idea of how much all the projects will cost, the district believes it will have more than $6 million left over to spend on new projects. The district also has $5.3 million in contingency money, which is being reserved in case of construction emergencies but will available to spend when projects finish without if there are no unexpected expenses.The board prioritized a long list of possible projects and grouped them together in phases, which would be completed in order as long as the money is still there. In the best case scenario, the district will have more than $11 million to spend on new projects.Taking top priority is the artificial turf athletic field at the new high school, which will cost $490,000. Coaches and parents have for more than a year been campaigning for a turf field.With lacrosse growing in popularity, and with soccer and track and P.E. classes, a grass field would see eight hours of use a day, which would be more than it could handle, coaches have said. Grass fields wear out, develop bald patches and can look pretty torn up after games.And with spring sports starting in February, well before all the snow melts, it doesnt make sense to play soccer and lacrosse on a field thats mostly mud, coaches have said.Charter Academy leaders have long said the school needs a new common building with a gym to safely hold school assemblies and to have P.E. on snowy days. The Charter Academy, which usually pays its own bills with state money and extensive fundraising, says it cant afford this new building on its own and asked the school district to pay most of the cost.Many people though fundamentally opposed giving the Charter Academy bond money, as it wasnt outlined on the ballot, and have harshly criticized the Board of Education for considering it.The board approved giving $2 million instead of the originally proposed $2.75 million for the Charter Academy building.It was not a unanimous decision board members Scott Green, Andy Arnold and Jason Benderly voted against approving the final three phases of the project list.
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