School construction projects underway

At the regular meeting of the Grand County Board of Education on July 18, numerous construction projects both planned and underway were discussed. Projects included renovations at the high school and tech center, plans for the new middle school facility, cleanup of Pack Creek near the bus barn and ideas for how to use the old Red Rock property.

High School Principal Steve Hren gave an update on work being done on the school’s main entrance. “The buildings are torn apart at the high school. They just started yesterday, so it’s not going to be finished until October,” he said. The main entrance of both the high school’s main building and the tech center are being renovated to provide for increased safety. Once completed, all visitors will have to pass through the office. Since the construction will reach into the school year, students will need to use a different entrance. “We’re going to use the counseling side as the front entrance for the high school. Kids are going to have to go into the entrance by the auto shop to go in the tech center,” explained Hren.

Superintendent JT Stroder discussed other construction projects in the school district. Earlier on the day of the meeting, a workshop was held on the new middle school facility. Options regarding the floor plan and cost are still being weighed. At the workshop, the main topic was the building’s exterior. Stroder presented conceptual drawings of how the school will look. The board voted unanimously to put out a request for quotation to hire a construction manager for the middle school project.

Since the new middle school will be built on the field behind the current facility, that means the property where Red Rock Elementary once stood, located on Mill Creek Drive, will remain vacant for the time being. Board members discussed possibilities for how to utilize the empty lot. There is a tentative site plan that would use the area for employee housing. According to Stroder, 56 housing units could fit on the property. The houses would be evenly split between two- and three-bedroom units and could be 900 and 1,200 square feet respectively.

In addition to the housing, the property could also accommodate a new preschool and a new district office. Stroder admitted it is unlikely the school district could fill 56 units. “If we decided, and it’s a total ‘if’ at this point… to use this space like this it might be worth a discussion with either the city or the county and the hospital… about them building us a certain number of units in exchange for the land,” he said. Stroder also mentioned how high school construction classes could help build the housing.

The board decided not to put out a request for quotation for architects to develop designs for employee housing. “I feel like we’re getting ahead of it by having an RFQ for an architect when we haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing with the property,” said Board Member Peggy Nissen. Board Member Jim Webster added, “We really do need to ‘workshop’ it at one or two meetings… after we all feel comfortable that we want to go this route and to what degree then I think an architect would be fine.” Webster added that funding for staff housing was still uncertain. After debating the advantages of having architectural designs before planning continues, the board decided to hold a workshop to discuss in more depth plans for staff housing and the Red Rock propertyh.

In response to the recent Cinema Court Fire, the school has undertaken a project to clean up Pack Creek near the bus barn. “The Conservation Corps… they have the entire area down below the transportation barn and maintenance barn completely cleaned out,” said Stroder. “We’re hoping they’re going to extend all the way down to the [Canyonlands] campground… I’m amazed at how much work they’ve done.” Stroder also mentioned that the district is ready to order new bleachers for the high school gym, which will cost about $100,000.

ByBy Nathaniel Smith

The Times-Independent