New Cedaredge Elementary boasts safety, energy upgrade

Delta County School District 50J provided 23 percent of a grant’s total funding to build the new school and paid that amount, about $3 million, through certificates of participation.



An open house for students, families and citizens will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Cedaredge Elementary School, 380 North Grand Mesa Drive. The open house will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Cedaredge Elementary School students will have one place to call home when school starts Aug. 20.

In addition to a main building at 230 Northwest Cedar Ave., the old Cedaredge Elementary School included two kindergarten cottages, a house, a cafeteria, two modular units and a former middle school building used for music classes. The configuration wasn’t safe, requiring students to trot back and forth across Northwest Cedar Avenue next to Colorado Highway 65, according to Delta County School District 50J Facilities Director John McHugh.

“There were safety reasons, energy reasons, every reason to replace it, but safety was the biggest issue. Kids were crossing the street three or four times a day,” McHugh said.

The district was approved for a Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, grant in August 2010 to pay for construction of a new elementary school. Funding from the $11 million Colorado Department of Education matching grant arrived in April 2011 and construction of the school began last August, according to District 50J Assistant Superintendent Kurt Clay. The new building wraps around and incorporates the former middle school building and is located across from the old elementary school at 380 North Grand Mesa Drive.

District 50J provided 23 percent of the grant’s total funding and paid that amount, about $3 million, through certificates of participation. Certificates will be repaid over the next 20 years through money set aside in the district’s budget for capital projects.

As with all state-funded construction, the new school is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. Energy-efficient features in the building include large windows and skylights that provide 90 percent of the school’s lighting through natural daylight, motion-sensor lights that turn off when no one is in a room, high-efficiency condensing boilers and a solar panel system that will provide all of the building’s heat for water and some of its electricity.

McHugh said the school also incorporates light colors throughout the building, including yellow railings, a white roof and a concrete parking lot, in order to reflect light instead of absorbing it and putting more demand on the school’s cooling system.

Eighty-eight percent of materials from the old school were recycled in the new building.

The building will be partially empty this year, and Clay said unused buildings formerly occupied by the school will be demolished as money becomes available. District 50J home-school hybrid Surface Creek Vision Home and Community Program will move into a newer portion of the elementary’s former main building this fall, he added.

A television in the school’s lobby will display information about the school’s current and optimal energy use. The screen will display energy information for the elementary school and Cedaredge High School. High school students will be able to tap into data from both schools on computers at their school.

“There’s a lot of hands-on stuff they can do with this system,” McHugh said.

Students will notice new classroom amenities including newly exposed and reinforced wood beams in the gym that were previously covered by a false ceiling, FM systems in the classroom that help students hear a teacher better through a speaker system that amplifies classroom lectures and “smart boards” in every classroom. The boards allow teachers to digitally copy notes they wrote on the board that day and save them or email them to students who were absent from class.

Outside the school, students can choose from a new playground for younger kids and a new playground for upper-elementary students.

Both playgrounds are made from recycled materials and were built with money from a $200,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant and an additional $80,000 fundraised by the district and Cedaredge Elementary School’s parent-teacher organization.

Clay said the new play equipment and school have students and the town anxious for the start of the school year.

“The whole community’s pretty excited about it. It really is an icon, being in the center of town,” he said.


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