School District 51's Board of Education should fund infrastructure for full-day kindergarten and improvements to Central and Fruita Monument high schools in the near future, according to recommendations from a district long-range planning committee.

The three projects would be funded by nearly $17 million of premiums and savings left over from the 2017 bond measure.

Building infrastructure for full-day kindergarten would cost $3 million for upgrades or building additions to Appleton, Chatfield, Chipeta, Orchard Avenue, Pomona, Rimrock, Scenic, Shelledy, Tope and Wingate elementary schools.

The committee's second recommendation was to spend $700,000 to improve Central High School's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program.

The upgrades would include a STEM lab, larger classrooms so teachers could have dual-subject classes and an outdoor classroom.

The costliest recommendation was $8 million to build a new main corridor and entryway for Fruita Monument High School, which district officials said would extend the building's life by nearly 20 years.

Board President Tom Parrish asked if a similar solution would help Grand Junction High School.

"The bones of Fruita Monument are good, but at Grand Junction High School the building is literally sinking into the ground," architect Daniel Gartner said.

Board member John Williams said he was on the fence about investing more money in Fruita schools because the board has already approved $25 million for a new Fruita elementary school.

"I think there's a potential political cost to putting more money in Fruita after a new elementary school when there's so many other needs across this valley," Williams said. "But I'm not sure it's a good reason not to do it."

Other funding possibilities for the remaining $5.6 million include building an alternative middle school, buying additional land for Grand Junction High School's campus and safety improvements.

Kari-elin Mock of the Denver-based Cuningham Group said the committee was united in support for full-day kindergarten in District 51, a new elementary school in Fruita, improvements to local high schools and building a new high school in the Appleton neighborhood.

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