Bull's-eye on 92-year-old West school building in District 11 bond issue planThe West school building is eight years short of its 100-year anniversary, but under a District 11 upgrade proposal it may not get that far.
The spending plan for a bond issue that will go before voters in the election Nov. 8 states that the building, which was originally West Junior High, would be replaced. In its stead would be a new building, including classrooms and a gym, at a total cost of about $17 million. It would house the current West Campus, consisting of West Elementary and West Middle School.
The bond issue, along with a mill levy override, will be on the ballot, titled Questions 3C and 3D, respectively. The D-11 Board of Education voted in late August to approve the questions, which had been drafted in the preceding months by district staff and volunteers.
A similar strategy was used recently for another D-11 school (Adams Elementary), she said.
A district study of the West building's needs this year state that the following - concrete, door system, electrical power, fire sprinkler system, flooring system, HVAC system and plumbing - are in “poor condition.”
The cost to renovate would be similar to building new, Ashby added.
If the new-building option were chosen, the 6.85-acre site is big enough that district officials believe classes could be held in the old structure while the new one gets built in the area of the current playground and ball field.
West Middle faces onto Pikes Peak Avenue, and the West Elementary entrance is on 20th Street. The property is also bounded by Bijou Street to the north and 19th Street to the east.
No decisions about architecture - such as whether a replacement building would match the 1924 design - have been made, Ashby said. And no changes would occur without a “community-centric planning effort,” involving “a number of community meetings.”
The bond issue would also fund additions at Howbert Elementary, 1023 N. 31st St. ($560,000 for two classrooms); and the Academy for Advanced & Creative Learning K-8 charter school, 2510 N. Chestnut St. ($1 million for multiple classrooms).
Other elements of the bond issue would include district-wide upgrades in mechanical systems, technology, athletic facilities and building exteriors.
The override would include funds for added school security, class-size reductions and increased teacher pay (to help retain and recruit “quality educators”), as is stated in a D-11 fact sheet.
Both the bond issue and override would be funded through district property taxes. The bond cost would be $235 million, which would need about 25 years to be paid off, according to Glenn Gustafson, chief financial officer for District 11.
The override would go on indefinitely, with the tax slowly increasing to $32.6 million by 2023, and staying at that level (adjusted for inflation) after that, the ballot question states.
D-11 estimates that both measures combined would raise the average tax bill for a $200,000 home by $10 a month. However, Gustafson noted in an e-mail, “this amount would grow to almost $20 a month over 15 to 20 years, depending on the individual's property values.”
The override represents about 75 percent of the cost increase, Gustafson estimated.
He pointed out that “the Board of Education is going to create a program for those with financial hardships so they can volunteer in our schools to pay off the tax increase.”
D-11 staff included statements about the tax-increase rationale in the the bond issue and override agenda items that the school board approved Aug. 24. Cited was an “overwhelming consensus” of support from staff and community meetings over the past several months. The statements also asserted that “District 11 has lost significant ground” in terms of “maintaining its infrastructure” (bond issue) and delivering “quality education” (override).
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Westside Pioneer article