District 51 school updates would require $270 million

A statewide review of conditions at more than 8,000 schools revealed a $13.9 billion price tag for making each school energy efficient and able to foster a comfortable learning environment, and for completing deferred maintenance projects.

The Statewide Financial Assistance Priority Assessment does not list or rank specific schools and their needs, but lists the monetary amounts needed to meet all of the school condition and energy needs and changes needed to make schools “suitable” for learning.

In School District 51, fixing building conditions, which may include changes ranging from updating heating and cooling systems to repairing roofs, would cost the most at: Fruita Monument High School, $16.25 million; Grand Junction High School, $16 million; and Central High School, $12.25 million.

As for making a school suitable for learning, which means having enough space to learn, meeting technology needs and so on, the greatest costs for meeting state guidelines would come at: Central High, $15.1 million; Grand Junction High, $12.1 million; and Orchard Mesa Middle School, $8.3 million.

The report found 25 local schools don’t need to spend a dime on energy improvements. The District 51 schools that would have to spend the most to become energy efficient by state standards are: Fruita Monument High, $71,846; Grand Junction High, $65,259; and Central High, $60,420.

The report rated schools by how much it would cost to bring the buildings up to snuff — $270 million — versus how much it would cost to replace the schools entirely — $606.5 million.

Four District 51 schools — Gateway School, Loma Elementary, Mount Garfield Middle School and Scenic Elementary — would have to spend more than 50 percent of the cost of replacing the building to make the grade for building conditions, suitable learning environment and energy efficiency.

The Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board performed a financial-assistance-priority assessment during the current school year and released the results Thursday. The board used public-school-facility-construction guidelines as a basis for evaluation and will use the results to help prioritize which schools will receive Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants for school improvements.

Some repairs would address making the schools more functional, accessible or code compliant, but the study found 88 percent of the fixes needed to improve school conditions involve deferred maintenance.

If construction and maintenance needs continue to be deferred, the study’s authors project capital school conditions will more than double in level of deterioration.

Capital needs alone would cost $9.4 billion if construction takes place in the next three years, and the study estimates another $10.2 billion would be tagged onto that figure if capital needs are put off until as late as 2023.


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