Survey: Most back bond plan  to build new GJ High School 

Grand Junction High School, built in 1956, was the subject of a School District 51 survey filled out by 5,202 community members this spring. The school is in poor condition and the School District hopes to rebuild it.

Slightly more than 50 percent of Mesa County residents said they would support a bond measure to rebuild Grand Junction High School, according to a School District 51 survey filled out by 5,202 community members this spring.

Fifty-three percent of people said they would likely or very likely support a bond measure to rebuild GJHS and renovate Central, Fruita Monument and Palisade high schools to make them safer at a cost of $4.83 per month on a $200,000 home, or $57.96 per year.

In 2017, 55 percent of voters approved a District 51 bond measure and mill levy override for widespread school repairs, a new Orchard Mesa Middle School and upgrades to technology, safety, curriculum and more.

Board member Doug Levinson said he was pleased to see so many people responded positively to building a new Grand Junction High School.

"I thought that was really encouraging because we really haven't had an educational plan brought forward to the public to make everyone aware of the pressing needs of that building, but over time we've been talking about it and the community has been talking about it, and it's been well received that the school is in dire need of replacement," Levinson said.

Survey respondents also gave high marks to the importance of public education to Mesa County's future and the changes to the 2019-2020 school calendar, including fewer weeks with days off, later start times and moving early release days to Fridays for elementary schools.

The survey also asked people to rate different groups of district employees, including school staff, administration and the school board.

The school board received the lowest score, an average of 2.95 out of five stars.

Levinson described the rating as "disheartening but certainly understandable."

"After our fiasco of last July, I can understand why people would feel the way they do," Levinson said, referring to a controversial administration reorganization. "I think it's important that we've made some positive moves in the right direction by hiring Diana (Sirko, superintendent)."

Levinson said many of the board's recent decisions, like changing the calendar, moving toward replacing GJHS and transparency around the bond measure and mill levy override were rated well in the survey, even if the school board itself was rated lower.

"As a board we remain committed to doing what's best for our kids, our staff and our community, and that's not going to change," he said.

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