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Mancos school district prepares for construction after election win

With funding secure, officials plan school renovation project

After winning support for a bond measure that will secure almost $5 million in funding, the Mancos School District is preparing for a major school renovation project.

Bond Measure 3A, which passed in Tuesday’s election with 72.8 percent of the vote, will increase the district’s debt by $4.95 million for the purpose of school building remodeling, to be paid off with increased property taxes over the next 20 years.

The district has already secured $19.7 million in a Building Excellent Schools Today grant, so the bond will cover the remaining costs of what is estimated to be a $25 million project. Superintendent Brian Hanson said the next step is the design process, which he hopes will begin before the end of the year.

The remodel project will include updates to the electrical systems and plumbing in many of the district’s aging buildings, added safety features, additions to the gym and performance center and a major overhaul of the middle school buildings to turn them into a single building, among other things. Hanson said the district has already begun contract negotiations with Denver-based architectural firm Humphries Poli, which will design the project.

The owner’s representative for the project is former school board member Monty Guiles, who said he stepped down in August in order to avoid a conflict of interest.

Hanson said the school’s first step, after finalizing negotiations with Humphries Poli, will be to send out requests for proposal from construction companies. Guiles said he plans to ask the designer and construction managers for the project to work together closely even during the design process, to make sure the remodel is designed in a “constructable” way.

“The next step is the design process, and we’ll hopefully start that process before the end of this year,” he said. “We plan to start construction at the end of the school year, in the spring.”

He emphasized that the exact cost of the project has not been determined yet, so it could end up costing less than the $25 million the district has set aside.

Hanson said he hopes to finish most of the major construction next summer, so that students don’t need to move out of their classrooms during the school year.

“We’ve told parents and students throughout this campaign, we want to maximize the time when students are not on campus and minimize the impact when they’re on campus,” he said. “We’re not going to be moving students out of any buildings.”

In the meantime, he said, the school board still needs to officially sign an agreement to sell the bond, which he said would likely happen at its next meeting, on Monday.

On election night, several board members and school district employees went to the Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder’s office to hear results. They expressed relief and satisfaction with the bond measure’s passage.

“We’re ecstatic,” Hanson said after results were read.

Anne Benson, a member of the volunteer bond committee that advocated for the measure throughout the summer, also said she was pleased with the results, and thanked everyone who turned out to vote.

“This project will be a lasting legacy that cements our commitment to our children’s and the town’s future,” she said in a Wednesday email.

The property tax increases required by the bond measure will go into effect at the beginning of 2018.

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