District 9-R forecasts $80 million in
December 6, 2001
By Jennifer Reeder
Special to the
Durango School District 9-R schools need
improvements that could cost almost $80 million – a figure
that voters could see in a November 2002 bond issue.
The renovations are needed to meet the needs
of increased programs and growing enrollment, Superintendent
Mary Barter said at a meeting Tuesday night.
"With additional space comes additional
costs," Barter said.
A district facilities committee, made up of
20 community members and school administrators, evaluated the
changing needs of the district schools. Core recommendations
included increasing classroom size, adding preschools to all
existing elementary schools and expanding Durango High School
instead of building another high school.
Representatives from Anderson Mason Dale
Architects, of Denver, presented a preliminary cost estimate
of $68 million and diagrams for the infrastructure
improvements at the Tuesday meeting. If the district opts to
install air conditioning in all the buildings – a necessary
expenditure if year-round schooling is to be considered in the
future – the total cost would be $78 million.
These figures are in addition to the
district’s budgeted $125,000 a year for repair items, or
$625,000 over five years.
Peggy Kinsey, a senior associate at the
architecture firm, said classrooms in district 9-R are much
smaller than the ideal size for academic achievement. For
example, the ideal high school classroom has 900 square feet;
Durango High School’s are only 315 square feet.
"The district is forward-thinking in
recognizing that professionals and children can no longer work
in classrooms originally intended as storage space," Kinsey
There are approximately 5,000 students
enrolled in 9-R schools.
Other suggested improvements included:
At Riverview Elementary: adding
24,000 square feet of classroom space, playground
improvements, renovating and adding to the music room and
renovating the library and kindergarten.
At Needham Elementary: adding 12,500
square feet of classroom space, renovating the computer lab
and fixing drainage problems.
At Florida Mesa Elementary: adding
14,750 square feet of classroom space, a 9,580-square-foot
gymnasium, and a 5,300-square-foot library; and renovating
the building support.
At Animas Valley Elementary: adding a
5,000-square-foot gymnasium and 10,500 square feet of
At Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary: adding
a 2,150-square-foot cafeteria, a library, a computer lab and
a separate exterior entry.
At Sunnyside Elementary: adding a
14,000-square-foot art and reading suite, 9,800 square feet
of classrooms, a cafeteria and a library.
At Park Elementary: addressing major
overcrowding by adding a 6,000-square-foot gym, 11,300
square feet of classroom space on the second floor, and
2,600 square feet of preschool classrooms.
At Escalante Middle School: adding
10,500 square feet of classrooms, 3,500 square feet to an
auxiliary gym and toilets.
At Miller Middle School: separating
grades of students by adding 19,000 square feet of
classrooms, improving band facilities and completing
unfinished locker rooms.
At Durango High School: adding 70,000
square feet of classroom space, a 5,000-square-foot kitchen
and a cafeteria and renovating administration offices.
After the meeting, Deborah Uroda, 9-R
director of public information, said smaller numbers of
students in larger classrooms will help improve student
"It is mandated that 80 percent of students
in Colorado public schools must perform at grade level or
above," Uroda said. The goal of the improvements is for 100
percent of district students to perform at or above grade
Jim Schneider, a parent of three 9-R
students, said the plan is extravagant and should have called
for building a second high school instead of spending $21
million to expand the high school.
"We don’t need a Taj Mahal to teach our
children," Schneider said. "An $80 million bond issue isn’t
going to fly."
Superintendent Barter stressed that plans are
extremely preliminary and that community input will shape the
decision-making process. B
arter said a final proposal will be presented
to the school board by early February, and that the bond issue
could be on the November 2002 ballot.
Comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or made
through the 9-R Web site at www.durango.k12.co.us.