As principal of Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, Colleen Owens spends a good chunk of her time dealing with facilities problems — a leaky roof, a flooding gymnasium floor, and the …
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As principal of Green Mountain High School in Lakewood, Colleen Owens spends a good chunk of her time dealing with facilities problems — a leaky roof, a flooding gymnasium floor, and the adjustments that need to be made because of insufficiencies in the school building.
But when Jefferson County voters approved the $567 million bond in November, it kickstarted a six-year plan to improve facilities throughout the district.
“It’s big, it’s complicated and it’s a lot of work,” said Tim Reed, executive director of facilities and construction management for Jeffco Schools. “But we’re thankful for the voters. It’s a huge opportunity for the school district.”
And Owens is excited about what the bond money means for her school.
Originally built in 1972, Green Mountain had renovations done in 1995, but the majority of the schools is from the original build 46 years ago.
Green Mountain is slated to receive $13.6 million of work through the bond program. That includes expanding the facility with an addition; remodeling the building interior; removing modular buildings; improvements to the commercial kitchen, parking lot, landscaping, athletic fields, electrical wiring, heating and cooling, plumbing and piping; and replacing the roof, sidewalks, old furniture, sinks, carpet, tile and ceilings.
This is also in addition to security and technology updates expected.
“We would love to have a brand new school, but there’s enough money,” Owens said. “The 13 million will go so far for us to address the critical facility needs.”
Though it may seem insignificant to some, Owens said updates in classroom furniture are something her school is excited about, adding that right now, 90 percent of the schools furniture are hand-me-down from other or bought at furniture store close-outs.
“We’re hoping for decent furniture that’s more collaborative and have the desks,” Owens said. “I know it sounds weird, but seating really does matter. The whole environment of walking into a learning space that kids have confidence in helps them say, `I am here to learn.’”
Green Mountain is one of the first schools that will see work specifically funded by the bond with hopes of construction starting this summer.
An advisory group started working with an architect in early January to help decide how the money is best spent. Owens hopes to hold a community meeting in March with details to share.
“I think that our community really needs to hear strongly from us how grateful we are,” Owens said. “I know this is a tax increase, and as a tax payer myself, I don’t like paying for taxes. But speaking for Green Mountain High, I’m going to make sure every dime is spent with great care and squeeze every penny I can. None of this would be possible without the voters of Jeffco.”
Reed said age of buildings, the length of time to do a project and a desire to bring all pre-1980 high schools up to parity first helped determine the timeline of projects.
Alameda Jr/Sr., Arvada High and Columbine High are the other three schools that are starting their renovation process now. In January 2020, four more high schools will start the process.
“We don’t want to create a situation where you run out of quality consultants or contractors,” Reed explained. “You don’t want to bid against yourself for a project.”
Reed said newer schools or schools that had improvements done as part of the 2004 bond tend to be toward the later years in the six-year timeline because they don’t have as many deficiencies and don’t need the immediate attention that other schools do.
However, this summer basic projects such as replacing carpeting, finishes, mechanical work and replacing lightning with LEDs will happen.
The three schools being rebuilt — Prospect Valley Elementary in Wheat Ridge, Kendrick Lakes Elementary in Lakewood and Marshdale Elementary in Conifer — will also be spaced out. Reed said the district will start selecting architects in February for the Kendrick Lakes build, which will be first.
Proposed new schools in west Arvada and Rooney Valley are late in the bond cycle because they are based on future growth in those areas.
Another project planned to start early in the bond cycle is the addition to Three Creeks K-8 in northwest Arvada.
“The growth that we’re seeing up there, they will be at capacity next fall,” Reed said. “They are growing faster than anticipated.”
Reed also said the Warren Tech South campus is slated as an earlier project.
Heather Keeton, principal at Warren Tech and Warren Tech North, is excited about the possibilities another career-focused campus brings to students in Jeffco.
“One of the limitations we have is around class sizes,” Keeton said. “With equipment, job shadows and internships, there is a limited number of students that can be accepted into any one program.”
Keeton said a south campus would allow them serve more students by either opening more sections of programs already offered or opening more programs.
Though the school is still in the process of deciding what programming at the south campus will look like, Keeton said they are considering programs in aviation, health care, live sounds and event production, advanced manufacturing, marketing, entrepreneurship and hospitality.
“We have not made any determination yet and we will really be pulling our stakeholders together to make those decisions,” Keeton emphasized. “Overall it’s really exciting because we are going to be able to serve more students.”
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