Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy remodel wraps up school bond projects
Projects completed on time and generally under budget
MINTURN — School board members were beaming as they toured the last bond-funded project.
The Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy renovation closes the books on a dozen and a half building and renovation projects up and down the valley, made possible when Eagle County voters agreed in 2016 to raise their own taxes to pay for it all.
“We’re happy to be settling down to the business of educating the kids. No more distractions,” said Kate Cocchiarella, the school board president.
Work at VSSA focused on the unsecured entrance. It had no clear line of sight as visitors approached the building. Now it does, along with two sets of doors and locked entries accessible by security card or buzz-for-entry. New concrete stairs from parking to the entrance were installed, as well as new carpet, furnishings, district-managed internet, and more instructional technology that includes a device for each student.
VSSA also added hockey, mountain biking, and ice skating through competitive clubs.
“We’re excited for the future of VSSA, all our schools, and the new board,” Cocchiarella said.
The VSSA renovations will cost $1 million, a relative drop in the bucket in the $168 million the school district had to spend on building and renovation projects.
The school board launched the building blitz April 17, 2017, with a groundbreaking for an early childhood space at Gypsum’s Red Hill Elementary.
All that construction was supposed to take three years, but Haselden, the school district, RLH Engineering, TAB and Associates architects and other firms compacted it into two. That saved taxpayers millions of dollars.
After Eagle County voters agreed in November 2016 to raise their own taxes to fund everything, the district’s finance department, led by Chief Operating Officer Sandy Mutchler, waited a few days for an upward bump in the bond market. Their patience paid off and the bond sales generated an additional $22,332,115.
Add another $14 million from Vail for the parking structure under Red Sandstone Elementary School and Eagle County voters had $168 million to spend on school projects.
Because Haselden Construction managed to get the work contracted and underway in late 2016 and early 2017, before inflation in both labor and materials whacked the construction industry, it made the money go even further, RLH Engineering’s Rex Chamberlin said.
It also helped that as Eagle County’s Body Politic gave the school district the thumbs up in November 2016, Tab Associates architects had plans in place so crews were ready to begin construction by June 2017 when the school year was done.
There are still a few small items to wrap up at VSSA, said Dan Dougherty, the school district’s chief communications officer. But the project essentially wraps everything up.
“And it all started because voters said yes,” Chamberlin said.
The school board will hear a bond project overview in its January 2020 meeting.
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