The Juniper School is on schedule to move into a 5,500-square-foot remodel of the old CenturyLink building on a 4-acre site in Bodo Industrial Park for the next school year.
Long-term plans are to add to the campus, at 225 Sawyer Drive, as enrollment grows and the school ponders adding middle school grades.
Two modular buildings will bring the campus up to 9,500 square feet of space for use in school year 2020-21. Currently, Juniper has 6,000 square feet of space in its school located above Big Picture High School on 12th Street.
Modulars are expected to arrive by the end of June, and construction should be complete by the end of July, said R.J. Rieger, treasurer of the board of directors of The Juniper School.
The $3.7 million purchase of land and remodel will include classrooms, offices, art and elective rooms, and offer a large multipurpose/lunch room with the modulars providing 4,000 square feet for classrooms.
“It’s a pretty basic remodel,” Rieger said. “We were able to go through and redo the fire system, redo the bathrooms, get it ADA-compliant and all that stuff.”
The Juniper Parent Action Group is working with teachers to begin a fundraising campaign for the remodel and the land purchase. Rieger said anyone interested in donating can contact him at email@example.com.
Financing was provided by Bank of the San Juans. Flanagan Architecture in Durango designed the remodel. FCI Constructors, with headquarters in Grand Junction and an office in Durango, is the general contractor.
Finding the old CenturyLink building completed a long search for a permanent home by The Juniper School, which serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade.
The school has long-term plans to expand its current 150-student enrollment to up to 240 students and is considering the addition of middle school grades.
The Juniper School is authorized through Durango School District 9-R, but it is self-financing and self-funded. It is funded by the state of Colorado at 75% of the state per-pupil rate for public schools, and it generates revenue on its own through grants, donations and other sources to add to its funding.
The 4-acre site is able to handle building additions in phases as the school grows.
“This has the potential to meet the needs for 20 years of growth,” Juniper Board President Heather Houk told members of the Durango Planning Commission when it reviewed plans for the new site in December 2019.
The school will have an open-air art room to support an arts immersion program, Rieger said. Outdoor acreage will allow for different play spaces, a garden and outside learning options, he said.
“We’re not used to having that much room. It’s awesome,” he said.
The Juniper School is examining how to adapt operations in the 2020-21 school year to address concerns with COVID-19, Rieger said.
“We are working like many schools across Colorado on how to adapt to our changing situations with COVID-19, and what it will all look like come August. We’ve talked with our school leadership as a board regularly, and we all agree that we will have to plan for what we know and take the rest one day at a time,” he said.