A survey on the Montezuma-Cortez RE-1 School District’s website asks respondents to consider options for the fate of the retired high school building on Seventh Street in Cortez.
The survey, posted Friday, lists four options for the old high school and asks people to say whether they agree or disagree with each. All the options on the survey have been discussed previously in various task force and school board meetings.
One option would see the district keep the building and try to find funding to repurpose it for district offices, many of which currently are located at the Downey School at 400 N. Elm St. This option would cost the district $500,000 at minimum, according to school officials. That cost would include installing fire doors to close off sections of the building impacted by asbestos as well as other required maintenance work. That amount hasn’t been budgeted in the district finances, RE-1 finance manager Wendy Everett said at the task force’s meeting March 24.
A second possibility would have the district try to find money to remove asbestos and demolish the building. The estimated cost for this option would be $1.8 million to $2.5 million, far over the amount the district originally budgeted.
A third option would see $1.8 million, which has been set aside to build a stadium at the new high school, be reallocated to fund asbestos abatement and demolition of the old high school. That amount likely wouldn’t cover the total cost of abatement and demolition, though.
It wouldn’t be enough to fund the construction of a new stadium, either.
A fourth survey option would see the district put that money toward new stadium construction, as planned, as well as attempt to raise an additional $1.5 million to cover the total cost of stadium construction.
Though the survey lists only these four options, Kemper Elementary Principal Jamie Haukeness, who also is RE-1 executive director of facilities and school safety, on Thursday told the task force neither district officials nor board members have a predetermined outcome for the fate of the building.
The district does not want to put kids back in the building, though, Haukeness said. RE-1 was awarded $22.7 million from the state department of education’s Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant to build the new MCHS, and one main reason district officials cited in the application for the grant was that the old MCHS was not safe for students, Haukeness said.
“The idea for this (task force) is not to come up with a long-term plan, but we do want to explore options,” he said at Thursday’s meeting.
The task force on Thursday formed four subcommittees that will investigate several topics, including district finances, repurposing the retired MCHS, abating asbestos at the building, demolishing the old high school and long-term plans for the old MCHS site.
The task force, which includes district officials, local government officials and members of the public, will meet several more times in April and May, with a goal of providing the Board of Education with two or three feasible options by the end of the school year.
The survey can be found at the district’s website, www.cortez.k12.co.us.