A series of informational meetings will be held at all schools in Durango School District 9-R to present plans for new upgrades and work to address deferred maintenance in each building.
The upgrades and deferred maintenance work were identified in an update of the district’s 10-year Facilities Master Plan, and the school meetings will offer the public an opportunity to see specific upgrades and work identified at each building.
Meetings will come ahead of the school board’s decision, expected in the next several months, to seek between $90 million and $120 million to fund construction and capital-improvement work.
“We’re going to have meetings so the community members can come in and look at the building, see some of the projects that would be applied at that individual school and get feedback from the individuals on our facilities plan, projects that need to be prioritized and their feedback on our process,” said Deputy Superintendent Andy Burns in an interview this week.
Already the district has engaged community members in its Long-Range Planning Committee and sent out two surveys seeking public input about priorities for facility updates in the next decade. The meetings at the schools will offer additional opportunities for public engagement.
“Hearing back from our community members is essential for this process to be successful and to make sure that our buildings reflect the needs and values of our community,” Burns said.
A public survey about facilities’ needs in the district showed 60% of respondents supported repurposing existing facilities, remodeling to improve energy and operational efficiencies, selling and relocating Florida Mesa Elementary School, closing low-enrollment schools, creating affordable housing for employees, and replacing Miller Middle School with an on-site demolition and rebuild.
The survey showed 50% of respondents supported creating flexible learning spaces, building a new career technology center, acquiring new furniture and creating new special-education spaces.
When asked what their comfort level was for the dollar amount to be sought in bonds, 42.6% supported seeking $110 million, $22.5% supported seeking $100 million and $21.5% supported seeking $90 million.
Among the priorities that have emerged from a six-month review of its 10-year Facilities Master Plan are:
A relocation of Florida Mesa Elementary School, most likely to Three Springs.A demolition and rebuild of Miller Middle School on its current site.The construction of a career technology building for education in skills – such as building trades, auto mechanics, culinary education and other job-oriented certificate programs – likely to be built on the campus of Durango High School.An upgrade of safety and security at all schools.If voters approve $90 million to finance the upgrades, Burns said taxpayers would not notice a tax increase, because the new bonds would be offset by retirement of old bonds. However, Burns said the $90 million option would not finance all the projects envisioned in the facilities master plan update.
If voters approve $120 million to finance upgrades, Burns said the owner of a $500,000 home would see his or her taxes increase by an estimated $30 per year. The owner of a business with an assessed value of $5 million would see his or her property taxes increase by about $1,500 a year.
If voters reject all bond proposals, Burns estimated the total property tax bill for the owner of a $400,000 home would decrease by $166 a year.