Schools celebrate Spring Creek campus, new transportation, tech center, student auto shop | VailDaily.com

Schools celebrate Spring Creek campus, new transportation, tech center, student auto shop

GYPSUM — For the Wednesday, May 9, ribbon-cutting ceremony, school board president Katie Cocchiarella decided to share the scissors.

To officially open Eagle County Schools' new Spring Creek transportation and technology campus, she handed the oversized scissors over to four auto shop students working on some cars inside.

"Students already here, already learning before we get the ribbon cut. I'm going to let them have the honors," Cocchiarella said.

The four teenage boys are adept with tools, and grinned from ear to ear as they took the scissors and cut the blue ribbon.

"We have here all the people who work to keep everything ticking along for all of our students and staff, to get them where they need to go and enable them to do what they're doing. Transportation and technology are really heart of the district here," Cocchiarella said.

Everything from the school district's Third Street administration buildings moved over, and that building is gone.

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Inside the remodeled building on Spring Creek Road in Gypsum is the district's information technology department, transportation department, bus-maintenance facility, auto shop, classrooms, conference rooms and all sorts of other new things.

It's another building opening on budget and ahead of schedule, Cocchiarella said.

Shop for success

Those students are under the guidance of teacher Jim Jones. Among Wednesday's projects was their derby car, as in demolition derby. It's a 1990s-vintage Toyota Corolla, probably a sound choice for demolition derby cars. As reporter Scott Miller so correctly states of the Corolla, "When we're all nuked and there's nothing left on earth but cockroaches, they'll be driving that car."

In the auto shop, a couple bays down there's a Chevy van with the top chopped off, the seats realigned and Cherry Bomb pipes out the side. The plan is to strip a pickup truck and convert it into a trailer, put a hot tub in that trailer, hitch the trailer to the van, heat the hot tub from the heat of the engine and enjoy life.

The students will remember everything about those lessons, long after they've forgotten whether a dangling participle is a fashion faux pas or a grammar goof-up.

And, Jones said, if they work at it, then they can earn enough Automotive Service Excellence certifications to walk from their high school commencement line straight into a job that pays between $20 and $30 an hour …

"At 18 years old," Jones said, looking out across his shop and the students in it.

By the way, directly behind the new tech/transportation center and just a few steps away, will be Red Canyon West High School, where dirt work is already being done to prepare for construction.

Voter approved

It's all part of the voter-approved bond projects, passed in November 2016.

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 those projects.

• That means that the school district has $154,102,115 to spend, $10 million more than the $144 million Eagle County voters 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.

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

About Spring Creek Campus

The Eagle County school district’s new transportation and technology center is located at the former Integra Auto site on Spring Creek Road in Gypsum.

Purchase price: $3,714,214

Cost to renovate: $2,776,388

Size: 4.5 acres with 18,831-square-foot building