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Durango School District 9-R gives status update on number of projects

About 16% of money collected through bond has already been committed
Durango School District 9-R says so far 50% of contracts for projects funded through the 4A School Bond have gone to local contractors. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Sixteen percent of the money collected through a $90 million bond issue for Durango School District 9-R has already been committed to projects, according to the school district..

“Summer break will be a busy time for construction at our schools,” said 9-R Superintendent Karen Cheser. “Our team is working hard to make many improvements during this time so it doesn’t impact learning during the school year. We’re grateful to the community for supporting this bond. Our students will thrive in spaces that are safe, secure and well-designed.”

About 50% of the money allocated to projects has been spent using local contractors.

“It’s important to us to choose local vendors whenever possible,” Cheser said. “It has been a rough couple of pandemic years. Now it’s time to rebuild our schools and restart the local economy at the same time.”

Major project updates include completion of the schematic design for Miller Middle School, and schematic designs for the district’s Career Innovation Center at Durango High School.

The district has noticed a 24% increase in construction costs as a result of supply shortages, manufacturer product delays, and shipping and delivery delays for recent projects. The 4A bond update notes that the district will continue to evaluate rising construction costs.

Construction documents are in progress and under review for vestibule projects at Park Elementary School, Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary School, Sunnyside Elementary School, Florida Mesa Elementary School, Escalante Middle School and Durango High School. The high-priority vestibule projects planned this summer are at DHS, Escalante Middle School, Animas Valley Elementary and Needham Elementary School.

“Vestibules are best practice to keep everyone safe,” said Kathy Morris, 9-R director of safety and security. “We’re really trying to reduce the interruption of the learning environment. A vestibule allows interaction with the school’s administrative staff, but (also) restricts visitors’ access to students and teachers. The new spaces will be welcoming, but still secure.”

Bidding is complete for Phase 1 of roofing projects at Park Elementary, Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary, Sunnyside Elementary and Needham Elementary, for summer 2022. Contracts were approved by the Board of Education at a March 8 work session. Documents for the roof projects have been submitted to the state for permit review.

A number of schools, including DHS, Needham Elementary, Park Elementary and Sunnyside Elementary have plans for HVAC system upgrades.

“The schools have outdated HVAC equipment that’s past its life expectancy,” said Mike Cavender, 9-R interim director of facilities and sustainability. “These new systems will make classrooms more comfortable and enjoyable so students can be more engaged.”

Additionally, new buses were ordered for the school district and have been received.

“Some of our buses have 300,000 miles on them, and that’s a lot for a school bus,” said Daniel Blythe, 9-R director of transportation. “It’s all the stop-and-go. ... That’s the worst thing you can do to vehicles. They are getting worn out and we are putting a lot of money in to maintain them. The new vehicles will have the latest emission equipment to protect the environment, and keep running longer to get students safely to school.”

njohnson@durangoherald.com

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