At $2.2 million, the top estimate to demolish the former Montezuma-Cortez High School building is more than 15 times the budgeted amount.
Last month, Re-1 School Superintendent Alex Carter told school board members that the lowest demolition bid received was $1.3 million, nearly 9 times higher than the 2012 $145,000 estimate. The highest demolition bid topped out at $2.2 million.
“It’s a complete budget bust,” Carter said.
In September, board members directed Carter to seek demolition bids after city officials became irked that the building could become another community eyesore. In case estimates were over-budget as projected, the board also instructed Carter to devise a facility study for potential uses and options to place the building on the real estate market.
Plans for the last two directives have yet to be unveiled, but Carter has indicated that a workshop would be held this month to discuss all district facilities. An agenda has yet to be released for the board’s next meeting on Jan. 19.
When applying for a grant and bond measure in 2012 to finance a new high school, Re-1 officials vowed that the old Seventh Street high school building would be flattened. That plan was shelved due to unforeseen asbestos abatement costs.
Asked to provide their thoughts on the matter, two new school board appointees declined to comment.
At last month’s regular board meeting, Kara Suckla was appointed to represent District G, and Sheri Noyes was tapped to the District F post. Both seats were vacated after no candidates filed to campaign in November’s election to replace term-limited board president Tim Lanier and retiring board member Brian Demby.
Saying that he wanted the process to remain open longer for other potential candidates to be considered, only school board president Jack Schuenemeyer voted against the political appointments. At the meeting, the board didn’t ask questions of Suckla or Noyes.
The Journal subsequently emailed a 14-question survey to both appointees, in part, inquiring what steps they’d take to engage constituents and ensure transparency, their position on whether property taxes should be increased to better fund the financially strapped district as well as potential solutions on how they’d proceed with the old Montezuma-Cortez High School building. Neither Noyes nor Suckla responded to the request.
A pending memorandum of understanding between the city of Cortez and the school district required the former schoolhouse be demolished by the end of 2015.
In addition to the old high school building, the Re-1 district also controls other de-activated properties, notably the dilapidated Calkins building in downtown Cortez.
In January 2015, the district voted to sell the 1909 building to Kansas City developers for $275,000. In August, the district extended the offer until November 2016 after developers were unable to secure a tenant.