Fruita Monument High School could soon have a brand-new look as School District 51 officials consider building a new main entrance, enclosing the school's front courtyard and constructing a central corridor throughout the building.

The $8 million worth of changes would lengthen the building's lifespan by nearly 20 years, said Director of Maintenance and Operations Eric Nilsen.

Fruita Monument is already undergoing $5 million in renovations funded by the 2017 bond measure, including securing the school's main entrance, repaving and upgrading the parking lot to include a drop-off loop and roof repairs.

Although the current funding could pay for a secure main entrance, Nilsen said, it would be a bandage on the larger problem of Fruita's confusing and unsecure layout, instead of a long-term fix.

With the current funding, the school district could create a secure entrance leading into the courtyard, but not enclose it or do any further remodeling.

"The secure entry would leave the open courtyard and it would still be a little more cumbersome to get to the office, but it would still be a main entrance. It's step one of what could be a long-term fix for that school," Nilsen said.

With the proposed project, the courtyard would be replaced by a main front door and large hallway that would run the length of the school, similar to the main hallway at Central High School.

Fruita Monument Principal Todd McClaskey said people who come to the school are often confused about where to enter and, once they do, how to get around the building. The remodel would solve those problems as well as provide a clear "line of sight" through the whole building, which helps with safety.

It would also look a lot better, he said.

"The main focus is to improve safety, but in that I think we're going to really be able to improve the look of the high school," he said. "Our kids deserve a high school they can walk up to and be proud of the appearance."

School board members in September approved $220,000 to design the new main entrance and hallway as well as $610,000 for a new parking lot on the southeast corner of campus, both funded by existing savings from bond construction.

A District 51 long-range planning committee is considering how to spend nearly $42 million in capital construction funding left over from selling premium bonds, additional grant funding for Orchard Mesa Middle School construction and cost savings, according to Chief Operations Officer Phil Onofrio. The committee will likely make recommendations to the school board sometime between January and March.

If the committee recommends the Fruita Monument entrance project for funding, the school board still needs to approve it.

That decision isn't set in stone, school board members said last month.

Board member Amy Davis said she wants to be cautious about approving more funding.

"The pressing need is always the project in front of you, so for each project there's always a chance the budget could increase," Davis said. "I feel pretty sensitive to the fact that as a board, our job is to understand what the community and taxpayers agreed to and not overstep that. At the same time, I hear you loud and clear that this is the right thing to do."

Board member John Williams said he's looking for data from the planning committee about where the additional money from the premium bonds should be spent.

"I'm really taken by the need to extend the life of Fruita Monument High School, rather than be faced with replacing a large part of it further down the road," Williams said.

Nilsen said whether the renovations at Fruita happen sooner or later, it's beneficial to have the project designs in hand.

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