Eagle County: Charter school, turf may get funds
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The school board will decide May 14 if it will use bond money to pay for artificial turf at the new Battle Mountain High School and a common building at the Eagle County Charter Academy.
Both projects, which have been at the center of an intense community debate over the past year, are at the top of the school board’s priority list.
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which gave the district money to build a new high school and elementary, renovate Eagle Valley High School and upgrade outdated technology in the classrooms.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 school board on Monday prioritized a long list of possible construction projects and grouped them together in phases, which would be completed in order as long as the money is still there.
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 can 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 doesn’t make sense to play soccer and lacrosse on a field that’s mostly mud, coaches have said.
Also on the top of the list is $95,200 for “Smart Boards” which are big white screens that teachers can use for interactive visual lessons. The first phase also includes improvements to elevators at two story schools, and $78,000 to begin designing a new stadium for Eagle Valley High School.
The next phase on the board’s priority list is paying $2.75 million for a common building at the Eagle County Charter Academy, which last September became the focus of an often contentious community debate.
Charter Academy leaders have long said they need a new common building with a gym to safely hold school assemblies and to have recess and physical education on snowy days.
The board first approved funding for the Charter Academy in September with a close 4-3 vote.
Board members who voted against the funding said then that the district should wait to see how much Red Canyon High School, June Creek Elementary and the new Battle Mountain High School will end up costing before approving funding for the charter school.
The Sept. 26 decision also wasn’t popular with several parents who said there were better uses for the money.
The board officially reversed its vote in November 2007, deciding that it would have been irresponsible to give the school money without knowing first how much other construction projects would cost.
Now, the school district feels confident that the money will be available, and will vote on giving the Charter Academy $2.75 million. The academy will still have to raise around half a million on its own to pay for the building.
The next group of projects on the priority list include a new woodshop, locker room and stadium for Eagle Valley High School, which will cost more than $3 million.
Everything else on the list ” such as upgrades to cafeteria kitchens throughout the district and new school bell and intercoms systems ” will depend greatly on how much contingency money is left.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or email@example.com.
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