Eagle County school construction projects on time, on budget; three more to finish this summer | VailDaily.com

Eagle County school construction projects on time, on budget; three more to finish this summer

EAGLE — When Eagle County voters approved school construction projects up and down the valley, completion seemed like a long way off.

It isn't.

School district officials and construction crews are expecting to move furniture in this summer.

Construction is moving ahead at a breakneck pace at Eagle Valley High School ($31.2 million), Eagle Valley Middle School ($25 million) and Eagle Valley Elementary School ($23.1 million).

"Those three schools will be ready to open their doors to students this fall," said Jeff Chamberlain, with RLH Engineering, one of the companies working on the projects.

This year school starts Tuesday, Sept. 4, the Tuesday after Labor Day.

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Yeah, that's fast

If that seems fast, then it is.

"We are so pleased with the outstanding progress made on our construction projects up to this point. Over the summer, there will be more than $120 million worth of construction completed in our schools since the voters in Eagle County passed the $144 million bond measure in 2016," said Kate Cocchiarella, Eagle County school board president.

The numbers run like this:

• $131,770,000 million in bonds were sold for school projects up and down the valley ($230 million total with interest).

• Those bond sales generated an additional $22,332,115, that will also be spent on the those projects.

• That means that the school district has $154,102,115 to spend, instead of the $144 million they thought they were going to have.

• $125 million is being spent on construction through the school openings in September.

• $120 million of that is under contract. That means it's either under construction or has been completed. If it's under construction, then it's scheduled for completion by November 2018.

Moving Eagle Valley Elementary School to a different spot on the school district's Third Street property in Eagle allowed crews to build the elementary and middle schools at the same time. That saves money in inflation and management, Chamberlain said.

"The architects, engineers and construction teams we've assembled, including Haseldon, RA Nelson, RLH Engineering and TAB Associates, have really expedited our projects, which is especially visible at our Third Street campus in Eagle with Eagle Valley Elementary and Eagle Valley Middle schools, and in Gypsum at Eagle Valley High School. These projects will be completed over the summer and open to students next fall," Cocchiarella said.

Follow the money

The school district takes the biggest bite of your property tax dollar. Of Eagle County's 107 taxing entities, 36 percent of property taxes go to Eagle County Schools, according to county financial records.

Prior to that November 2016 election when voters approved this bond referendum, the school district's state funding was slashed $14 million over two years. The district shed 90 jobs when the recession hit.

"We can't thank our community enough for the support they've provided through 3A and 3B, the mill levy override and bond. The financial support from these two measures enables Eagle County Schools to deliver high-quality public education in state-of-the-art and safe learning environments for the children in our community," Cocchiarella said. "Great schools make great communities to live, work and play."

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.