District Says School Buildings Need Repair

10/07/2020

Better Schools, Better Future Campaign is stumping for a yes vote on Referendum 4A, a measure that would allow the district to raise $90 million for school repairs and rebuilding Miller Middle School.

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DURANGO SCHOOL DISTRICT 9-R VOTERS WILL BE ASKED ON THIS YEAR'S GENERAL-ELECTION BALLOT TO EXTEND THE 2002 CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS MILL LEVY TO IMPROVE SECURITY, TO REPAIR ITS AGING SCHOOLS AND TO REPLACE MILLER MIDDLE SCHOOL. YOU'RE WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK, BROUGHT TO YOU BY SERIOUS TEXAS BARBECUE. I'M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE. NEARLY 15 YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE DURANGO SCHOOL DISTRICT 9-R LAST MADE SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENTS IN ITS SCHOOL BUILDIINGS, THANKS TO AN $83-MILLION BOND REFERENDUM THAT VOTERS APPROVED IN 2002. THE 2002 BONDS WILL SOON BE PAID OFF, BUT THE DISTRICT IS ASKING VOTERS TO EXTEND THE EXISTING PROPERTY TAX OF 5.677 MILLS TO GENERATE AN ADDITIONAL $90 MILLION DURING THE NEXT TEN YEARS. AND EXTENDING THE BOND MILL LEVY WON'T INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES OVER WHAT THEY ARE NOW, EQUAL TO ABOUT $9 A MONTH FOR A HOUSE WITH A MARKET VALUE OF ABOUT $400,000. RIGHT NOW, THE DISTRICT IS SPENDING A LITTLE MORE THAN A MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR ON MAINTENANCE, BUT AGING DISTRICT BUILDINGS NEED CLOSER TO $6 MILLION IN WORK. THE ADDITIONAL REVENUES WILL BE USED TO IMPROVE SECURITY MEASURES AT ALL SCHOOLS, REPAIR DETERIORATING INFRASTRUCURE LIKE ROOFING, FLOORING, PLUMBING, ELECTRICAL AND HEATING VENTILATION SYSTEMS, UPGRADE TECHNOLOGY AT ALL SCHOOLS, PURCHASE NEW SCHOOL BUSES, AND PROVIDE NINE MILLION DOLLARS TO CHARTER SCHOOLS FOR THEIR INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS. ANIMAS HIGH SCHOOL WILL USE SOME OF THE BOND PROCEEDS TO RAISE 6 MILLION DOLLARS IN MATCHING REVENUES TO BUILD A PERMANENT FACILITY ON THE FORT LEWIS COLLEGE CAMPUS. EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE CHARTER SCHOOL RECEIVED A $13.7 MILLION FROM THE COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, BUT THE NEW HIGH SCHOOL IS EXPECTED TO COST ABOUT $20 MILLION. DURANGO SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ERIKA BROWN SAID THE BOND EXTENSION MEASURE CAME OUT OF A DISTRICTWIDE MASTER-PLANNING EFFORT.
ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO, WE CREATED A LONG-RANGE PLANNING COMMITTEE TO REALLY DIG INTO THE NEEDS OF ALL OF OUR FACILITIES. THE AVERAGE AGE OF OUR BUILDINGS IS 47 YEARS OLD. SO THERE'S A LOT OF MAINTENANCE AND RENOVATION NEEDS. AND THIS TWO-YEAR LONG-RANGE PLANNING COMMITTEE MADE UP OF A DIVERSITY OF COMMUNITY STAKEHOLDERS CAME OUT WITH A 500-PAGE REPORT DETAILING ALL OF OUR NEEDS, AND IT'S PRETTY, PRETTY IMPRESSIVE. AND WE HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY IN THIS ELECTION TO GET $90 MILLION FROM A BOND WITH NO INCREASE IN TAXES. AND THAT'S BECAUSE THE 2002 BOND IS EXPIRING. SO WE CAN PAY OFF A NEW BOND WITH THE SAME TAXES. SO IT'S A REALLY GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE OUR SCHOOLS. THAT A WAY THAT WILL BENEFIT OUR COMMUNITY WELL BOND PROCEEDS ALSO WILL BE USED TO BUILD A NEW CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION CENTER FOR TEN MILLION DOLLARS ON THE DURANGO HIGH SCHOOL CAMPUS ON THE FRONT LAWN ADJACENT TO THE SENIOR CENTER. THE BIGGEST TICKET ITEM WILL BE NEW FACILITIES TO REPLACE MILLER MIDDLE SCHOOL AT A COST OF 45 MILLION DOLLARS. THE NEW BUILDING WILL BE LOCATED ON THE EXISTING CAMPUS, AND THE OLD SCHOOL WILL BE DEMOLISHED.
THE BUILDING THAT NEEDS THE MOST HELP IS REALLY MILLER MIDDLE SCHOOL, WHICH IS BEHIND ME. AND IT WAS ORIGINALLY BUILT IN 1961, THE, THE MAIN PART OF THE BUILDING, AND IT HAS THE ORIGINAL PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL FROM 1961. SO THERE'S VERY SERIOUS SAFETY CONCERNS WITH THAT. AND OUR COMMITTEE REALIZED THAT IT WOULD ACTUALLY BE MORE COST EFFECTIVE TO REBUILD THE WHOLE SCHOOL THAN DO A PATCHWORK OF RENOVATIONS TO FIX WHAT'S NEEDED.PLANS TO BUILD A NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AT THREE SPRINGS TO REPLACE FLORIDA MESA HAVE BEEN SCRAPPED TEMPORARILY AFTER THE COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TURNED DOWN THE DISTRICT'S APPLICATION FOR A BEST GRANT. HOWEVER, THE DISTRICT PLANS TO INVEST ABOUT 2 POINT 5 MILLION DOLLARS IN REPAIRS AND SECURITY MEASURES AT FLORIDA TO KEEP THE 60-YEAR-OLD BUILDING OPERATIONAL. IN THE MEANTIME, THE DISTRICT HOPES TO RECOUP FROM 7 TO 11 MILLION DOLLARS FROM THE SALE OF THE ADMINISTRATION AND FINE ARTS BUILDINGS AT 12TH STREET TO ADD TO ITS CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS BUDGET. A CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE OF ABOUT 40 VOLUNTEERS IS WORKING DISTRICTWIDE TO SECURE A YES VOTE ON REFERENDUM 4A. COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN MICHAEL HUDSON SAYS HE VOLUNTEERED FOR THE BETTER SCHOOLS BETTER FUTURE CAMPAIGN BECAUSE GOOD SCHOOLS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN A COMMUNITY'S ECONOMIC VITALITY.
I BELIEVE WE HAVE HERE IN DURANGO, A SUPERB SCHOOL SYSTEM, BUT THE BUILDINGS AND ALL THE FACILITIES ARE REALLY GETTING OLD. THEY'RE LIKE ME, AND THEY NEED SOME REAL UPDATING. AND I THINK THE COMMUNITY RECOGNIZES THAT PEOPLE COMING HERE, ONE OF THE FIRST QUESTIONS THEY ASK, ARE ABOUT THE SCHOOLS, HOW NEW THEY ARE, HOW TECHNOLOGY SAVVY THEY ARE, CAN THE KIDS USE COMPUTERS. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THE SCHOOLS ARE BROUGHT UP TO DATE FOR A 20TH, 21ST CENTURY AS WE'RE GOING TO BE INJECTING $90 MILLION INTO THE COMMUNITY IN TERMS OF CONSTRUCTION REPAIRS, WORK ON ELECTRICITY, WORK ON THE VENTILATION SYSTEM. AND THAT WORK IS GOING TO GO TO THE LOCAL COMPANIES IN LARGE PART. SO IT'S GOING TO BE A BOOST FOR THE ECONOMY.TO SEE A COMPLETE LIST OF INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDS, VISIT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT'S WEB AT DURANGO SCHOOLS DOT ORG. THANKS FOR WATCHING THE LOCAL NEWS NETWORK.  LISTEN TO OUR NEWS STORIES ON YOUR FAVORITEPODCASTAPP, ANYTIME ANYWHERE! I’M WENDY GRAHAM SETTLE.

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