The Juniper School, an elementary charter school, could begin remodeling its two new Tech Center buildings in October to prepare the spaces for students to move in at the beginning of the second semester.
The charter school serves kindergarten through fifth grade students in the building above Big Picture High School on 12th Street and leased the office buildings to give the school room to grow.
Deputy Superintendent Andy Burns told the Durango School District 9-R board Tuesday the school could be approved by the state to start construction at 9 Burnett Court and 150 Tech Center Drive by October.
“They are eager and poised,” he said.
The Juniper School has not submitted construction plans to the Colorado Department of Education, but the school could receive an expedited review that would allow construction to start in the fall, Burns said. State review typically takes six to eight weeks. Many schools apply in the summer, but by applying in the fall instead, the school could be approved more quickly, he said.
The move will provide more than 10,000 square feet to the school, an increase from 6,500-square-foot space in the Big Picture building. The school served 135 students in the last school year and could grow to 228 students under its charter.
The school board voted in May to grant The Juniper School a loan of up to $400,000 to fund its move into the two Tech Center buildings. The Juniper School is chartered through 9-R and is financially accountable to the district. Burns said he has been meeting with school officials weekly to ensure the project is on track.
The money will be paid back to 9-R through property tax funds that are already going to the school. Even if the school folded, 9-R could recuperate the funds through the property taxes.