New school opens in Eagle-Vail
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – The Falcons are flying.
Homestake Peak School opened its doors last week, the last of the Eagle County school district’s school building projects.
The test drive is over, but it still has that new school smell.
“We’ve had a great first two weeks. They’re excited about the new facility, the new student body composition,” said Missy Carpenter, Homestake Peak school principal.
Homestake Peak is the Falcons, a name the students very good sense to choose. It’s located where Battle Mountain High School used to be, in Eagle-Vail.
That means they have lots of room for running and jumping and playing and learning, Carpenter says. It works well for the school’s expeditionary learning curriculum.
“We have a lot of area for kids to run and play and learn,” Carpenter said.
So far, 500 little blessings from above comprise the Falcons student body in kindergarten through eighth grade.
“The space we have is great for 500 kids. It feels just right,” Carpenter said. “We’re having so much fun.”
The only thing not completely finished is grading the spot where Meadow Mountain Elementary School used to be. That building was knocked down and its bits hauled away.
The building cost $10.5 million to renovate, the school district says.
Of that, $3 million is from the 3B, the $128 million bond issue Eagle County voters approved in 2006.
The other $7.5 million came from a financial gadget called Certificates of Participation. It’s a series of one-year loans, instead of one multi-year loan.
That allows the school district to dodge the restrictions of Colorado’s TABOR Amendment, banning governments from taking on multi-year debt without voter approval.
The Eagle County commissioners used the same gadget to pay for their $38 million justice center/jail project.
Unlike the jail, the Homestake Peak debt will cash flow because the school district is consolidating its expenses from Minturn Middle School and Meadow Mountain Elementary School. That is expected to save about a half million dollars a year, according to the school district’s budget numbers.
The district’s annual debt payment will be about $475,000. Consolidating Meadow Mountain Elementary and Minturn Middle School should cover the annual payments, said school district officials.
The district calculated that the consolidation would save about a half million dollars a year on utilities, maintenance and cutting duplicate staff positions.
About 85 percent of the money spent to renovate the building stayed local, district officials said.
The school is on Colorado State Land Board school land. When Colorado became a state in 1876, one square mile of land in each township was set aside for public schools. If the land is not used for schools, it reverts to the state’s school land board, which uses the land to help fund public education. The state school land board owns commercial properties all over Colorado, including several pay-parking lots in downtown Denver.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.