Bond measure takes aim at GJHS rebuild, security

Grand Junction High School.

While the Nov. 5 election saw two incumbent board members keep their seats for the Mesa County Valley School District 51, a rejected ballot question remains on the minds of the district's board as the district now looks to the future when it comes to Grand Junction High School.

"As a board we need to have a clear understanding on what lies ahead," Tom Parrish exclaimed at Monday special board meeting. "I just think we need to have that conversation as a board so we have some clarity when it comes to a bond issue."

Parrish was named board president by his peers at Monday's meeting, a role he will continue to serve for the next two years. Paul Pitton was named board vice president.

"You're only as good as the quality of your team and we have a quality team here," Parrish said after being named president.

Pitton and Doug Levinson were also administered the oath of office on Monday after running unopposed and will each serve four-year terms.

Though the board members selected committee assignments with Pitton picked to serve on the Colorado Association of School Boards Delegates Assembly and Levinson picked to be the board's representative to the Grand Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Service, the discussion shifted to the bond question by the end of the meeting.

Levinson was the first to ask what the next steps are following the election results.

In November, Mesa County voters rejected a $179.5 million School District 51 bond measure to replace Grand Junction High School and make improvements to Central, Fruita Monument and Palisade high schools.

Where that leaves the district remains to be seen.

While Parrish suggested going on a "retreat" with board members, school officials, and others involved in the discussion to go over next steps, board member John Williams, who was the most vocal in his disappointment when the election results came in, felt the next step could be for the district to look into getting schematic designs in place. He suggested concrete designs for a new high school would help eliminate some of the "sticker shock" that may have hurt the district's pitch to voters.

He added the designs could, and probably should, take at least a year to put together, but he felt they may be necessary.

Other factors discussed included how a new GJHS, or no new GJHS, will impact the demographics and boundaries at each of the schools in the district.

"What is the point when we will be up against the wall," Parrish posed. "We need to have a clear understanding of what that will be like."

He felt the district needed to give voters a better ideas about what its options are. He said he'd like to see one plan to replace the high school, with another plan preparing the residents of what they will need to do at Grand Junction High School if they can't secure a new building.

"Every year we put this off it becomes more expensive," Levinson added.

In the end, the board determined to push the conversation to future board meetings. On December 10, the board will continue its conversation on next steps during its scheduled board meeting. From there, the board will pin down what actually needs to be addressed going forward with Grand Junction High School and the district and have a complete discussion on the topic at its Jan. 7 meeting. Among the issues that will likely need to be discussed included getting into school safety concerns, overcrowding and boundaries within the district.

Recommended for you