Eagle County school bond revenue $15 million more than originally expected
September 27, 2018
EAGLE — You know that $144 million you said the school district could spend on new schools?
It turned out to be $159 million, and the extra money won't cost taxpayers an extra dime.
That $159 million does not include Vail's $14 million parking garage on the Red Sandstone Elementary School site, for which the town of Vail and the ski company picked up the tab — so that didn't really cost you anything, either.
"It's going better than they expected," said Jeff Chamberlin, with RLH Engineering.
Money for nothin'
In 2016, Eagle County voters gave the school district the green light to go into debt $143,924,501 to build and remodel schools up and down the valley.
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However, district Chief Operations Officer Sandra Mutchler postponed the sale a few days, as the bond market soared.
That means the school district's bonds hit the market when demand was high. They were also attractive enough that a bond that would usually sell for $1 was sold for a few pennies more. It might not seem like much, but it added up to $15 million in additional revenue, with the district raising a total of $159,039,686, Chamberlin explained.
While that's a lot more money, the way the bond market is structured, the payments are still based on that original $144 million.
So far, the district has spent $119,952,638 on construction and remodel projects.
They've committed $157,152,273 to new those projects.
That leaves around $2 million in contingency money to handle unforeseen problems, or other projects the district wants to do.
There have been some surprises at Vail's Red Sandstone, and surprises are generally unwelcome in the construction industry.
When crews tore into the building, built in the 1970s, they found the joists and studs were undersized and were on 2-foot centers. The statewide building codes require those studs to be on 16-inch centers.
The skylight was also on 2-foot centers, so it also must be rebuilt.
"We've dealt with unforeseen conditions and still have some contingency money," Chamberlin said.
On the other hand, Eagle Valley Middle School's original punch list was 840 items long. After just a few weeks, that list is down to fewer than 40 items, Chamberlin said.
Eagle Valley Middle School is also getting two more classrooms that weren't originally planned, along with a band room and a weight room.
Red Sandstone Elementary students had to move while their building is being rebuilt. They're at what has been dubbed Camp Minturn, a modular settlement in Maloit Park where the school district owns land.
Last weekend, 175 ski company employees volunteered to work at all kinds of tasks, ranging from landscaping to painting.
Red Canyon West, between Eagle and Gypsum, is scheduled to be ready Jan. 7, when students return for the second semester. Two days later, the first school board meeting is scheduled for that building.
And even with all the surprises they've had at Red Sandstone, the school is still scheduled to open in February. The parking structure is scheduled to be open by Thanksgiving, Chamberlin said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.