Opening receptions planned for new Eagle County schools funded by voter-approved bond money | VailDaily.com

Opening receptions planned for new Eagle County schools funded by voter-approved bond money

EAGLE — Back in November 2016 when local voters approved school construction projects up and down the valley, completion seemed to fall in the distant future.

The future is now.

Opening ceremonies and receptions are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 5, for Eagle Valley Elementary School ($23.1 million) and Eagle Valley Middle School ($25 million) and Thursday, Sept. 6, for Eagle Valley High School ($31.2 million).

"I'm excited for the students and staff to return to school and invite the entire community to visit our beautiful new campus on Third Street and the significant addition at the high school on Sept. 5 and 6. These are wonderful legacy assets for the community," Eagle County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlos Ramirez said.

Follow the money

When the economy tanked and the Great Recession hit, the school district's state funding was slashed $14 million over two years. The district shed 90 jobs at the time.

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On the heels of all that, in November 2016, Eagle County voters approved $144 million for school projects up and down the valley ($230 million total with interest).

A total of $125 million is being spent on construction, and $120 million 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.

"The school board has been given early sneak peak tours of our new schools," school board President Kate Cocchiarella said. "We are extremely happy to report that the good news of 'on schedule and under budget' is overshadowed by the incredible learning environments that have been created.

"I can't wait to see the expressions on the students' faces when they walk into their new schools. Once again, I would like to express our overwhelming gratitude to the community for supporting our kids and education. Thank you."

Done in a hurry

Forty-five years after students first strolled through Eagle Valley Elementary School's brand new doors, students and staff will be strolling through another set of brand new doors in a new school.

The old building was perfectly serviceable for those four decades, although it desperately needed to be replaced.

Five years ago, Eagle Valley Elementary was home to 260 students. It's at 410 now and is projected to hit 550 in eight years, said Principal Tiffany Dougherty.

Eagle Valley High School's enrollment is projected to hit 1,300 students by 2023.

"We're really grateful for the construction teams and everyone's hard work and dedication to complete all of these major projects and the excitement of having such great learning spaces for our students," said Sandy Mutchler, school district chief operating officer.

It's common for the planning and permitting process to take around a year, but local crews constructed a new school, demolished an old school and district office building, completed a significant renovation of the middle school and renovated and added on significantly to Eagle Valley High School in essentially one school year and the summer, Mutchler said.

And they even saved some money.

"We probably saved 5 percent on the escalation in construction costs. Plus, we designed and broke ground on Red Canyon High School West and designed and began demolition for the major renovation of Red Sandstone Elementary School and set up Camp Minturn Tigers for their temporary home," Mutchler said.

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

If You Go …

What: Ribbon cutting at new local schools

When: 5 pm. Wednesday Sept. 5, Eagle Valley Elementary School; 5:15 p.m. Wednesday Sept. 5, Eagle Valley Middle School; 6 p.m. Thursday Sept. 6, Eagle Valley High School

Where: At the new buildings on Third Street in Eagle and on U.S. Highway 6 in Gypsum.

More information: For information, go to eagleschools.net.