The Mancos School District has an extensive remodel planned for its antique school buildings starting next year, if it can secure the funding in this year’s election.
Mancos voters will decide on a bond issue in November that would increase the district’s debt by almost $5 million and pay it off with increased property taxes over the next 20 years. The money will go toward a $25 million renovation of the entire campus, including several new safety features and outdoor improvements.
As part of their ongoing outreach efforts on behalf of the ballot question, members of the district’s volunteer bond committee led a few town residents on a tour of the campus Monday night to show them where the buildings need improvement.
The oldest building on campus is the Mancos High School, which was built in 1909. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it has the antique plumbing to show for it. But every building on the campus suffers from some level of disrepair, from leaky roofs to outdated electric systems, and many of them lack safety features such as sprinkler systems and secure doors.
Anne Benson, the bond committee member who led the tour, was unable to open the front doors of the high school on Monday because a key had been broken off in each of the locks.
After letting attendees in through a back door, she explained that the district won’t be able to alter much of the building’s appearance, since it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but the planned remodel does include a few basic improvements, like an update to its electricity and plumbing, and the installation of a sprinkler system.
She also said the district plans to replace the locks.
Boe Hawkins, vice president of the school board, also accompanied the tour to answer questions about the remodel project. He emphasized the safety features that the district plans to add to the nonhistoric buildings, such as added security at the middle and elementary school entrances.
“People will come in, and they will be met with a barrier, and have to be buzzed in the door,” he said.
“They can’t just walk in. Right now, they can just walk in.”
Other buildings on the campus will get major additions. The district plans to add new classrooms and practice spaces to the Performance Center, and a new kitchen and cafeteria to the elementary school, where all students currently have lunch in a multipurpose room that used to house physical education classes.
The two middle school buildings will be connected, and the elementary school addition will connect it to the current multipurpose building.
Benson said one of the things the elementary school needs most is a new roof. Sections of the elementary library’s walls are covered in plastic because the roof leaked so severely during a recent storm.
The plan also includes several outdoor projects, like a new track field, resurfacing on the football field and a parking lot on property the school purchased behind the Performance Center.
A bus drop-off lane will be added to the front of the school, and the Early Learning Center on Walnut Street will get a new parking lot and crosswalk, which Benson said will improve children’s safety.
“They’ll have a turn-around at the end (of Walnut Street) so parents can turn around, drop their kids off and go home without hitting anybody,” she said.
Right now, she said, the dead-end street is “an accident waiting to happen.”
If passed, the bond will add $5.11 to residents’ monthly property taxes, for each house valued at $100,000, and $51.42 for each commercial property valued at $250,000, according to materials distributed by the bond committee. Agricultural property owners will pay between 70 cents and $25.57 per quarter section per month, depending on the type of land they use.
The majority of the remodel project is being funded by a $19.7 million Building Excellent Schools Today grant. The district is also applying for a Great Outdoors Colorado grant to build a new playground.
Only a handful of residents attended the tour on Monday, but Benson said feedback from the community about the bond issue has been mostly positive.
The bond committee plans to give a presentation on the bond issue and the remodel at Mancos Public Library on Oct. 23.