The Dolores School District Re-4A is planning a big campus renovation, and staff is seeking community input on some key decisions.
This year, the district plans to apply for a Building Excellent Schools Today grant to upgrade the entire campus. Recently, engineers from the Colorado Department of Education, along with other officials and architects, evaluated the site and proposed moving the entire campus, largely because of the difficulties posed by the floodplain.
The district will hold a community forum to gauge local sentiment on moving the campus site versus renovating the current facility. The forum is set from 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Dolores Community Center.
All community members are invited to share their thoughts.
“Our board must represent their constituents, and the only way they will know what you think and feel is to listen,” Superintendent Lis Richard wrote in a letter to parents posted on the school website. “Please come and share all of your thoughts.”
In August, the Dolores school board approved a master plan to help guide the BEST grant application. The design options presented in the master plan feature multiple new elements and additions, including a new secondary school and a more secure perimeter.
While the master plan does not guarantee a BEST grant will be awarded, it’s vital if the district wishes to be competitive in the application process, according to Max McCloskey of Humphries Poli Architects, which was awarded the contract to design the master plan.
The master plan was crafted with the school’s current location in mind.
“The campus is at a point where new construction is necessary to support future student population growth and replace failing facilities, yet there is no room to grow without a large intervention to the current site layout,” the master plan says in the site evaluation section. “It was also clear through the multiple stakeholder meetings that the community has economic and emotional ties to the current location of the campus in the center of town.”
Another factor discussed recently has been the possibility of collaborating with the town of Dolores and moving the football field to Joe Rowell Park. The master plan includes this option in the final cost estimate: Renovations to the main campus come out to about $40.5 million, while the football field’s relocation and construction would cost about $4.5 million.
After the state engineers and officials examined the Dolores campus, though, some concerns with the current site came up.
Those concerns, Richard said in her letter, include: safety and security, limited acreage, the site’s location in a floodplain with a rising water table, and the cost of demolishing all buildings and bringing in fill to raise campus elements by 3 to 4 feet.
“They encouraged us to talk with the community about the fact that it will keep flooding, as much money as we put into it,” she told the board at their Oct. 10 meeting.
A few board members were hesitant about the proposal to move the site.
“From everything I’ve heard, the school’s the center of the community,” said board Vice President Casey McClellan. “And even moving it a mile out of town could change this whole community.”
They moved to table the discussion and hold a community forum to ensure all perspectives could be shared before making a decision.