Election: Only 1,400 ballots returned so far, 6,600 mailed out | SkyHiNews.com

Election: Only 1,400 ballots returned so far, 6,600 mailed out

As of the start of this week, the Grand County Clerk and Recorder’s office reported that about 1,400 ballots have been received. Over 6,600 ballots were mailed out about two weeks ago.

The East Grand School District wants to remind voters of the importance of its 3A bond issue and to remember to mail in their ballots.

The 3A bond issue will fund an $18.25 million construction project to build major additions to Middle Park High School, Fraser Valley Elementary and Granby Elementary. The purpose to to provide additional classroom and activity space at those three district schools to solve current and future overcrowding problems.

“Not everyone may agree on the timing and scope of these projects,” said Superintendent Robb Rankin, “but no one can contend the need is not there.”

For the past three years, the East Grand district has been scrambling to find additional classroom space for its rising student enrollment. The situation reached a real crisis point this year when enrollment shot up by 72 students more than were in school last fall.

The lion’s share of funds to be raised by 3A bond question will be used to pay for the following:

– Middle Park High School ” construction of an 8,300-square-foot addition with four classrooms and a science lab; constuction of a 16,600-square-foot gym/locker room addition; construction of an 8,400-square-foot addition to expand the commons area; and the remodeling of classroom and athletic areas.

– Fraser Valley Elementary ” construction of a 7,400-square-foot additions; and the remodeling of existing classroom and work areas.

– Granby Elementary ” construction of a 12,100-square-foot addtion for classroom and cafeteria expansion; and the remodeling of the building’s administrative, teacher’s workroom and cafeteria.

The $18.25 million for the projects is a guaranteed price by the Neenan Company, the Fort Collins-based architectural/construction firm that worked with the East Grand School District on its last facilities projects.

According to the bond proponents, the cost of the school improvements will cost the average homeowner $15.40 per year based upon $100,000 of home value.

“There are plenty of reasons to support the bond,” Rankin said. “First is that we’ll be able to have more classroom space for lower class sizes at the elementary level.

Second, we’ll have more effective facilities at the high school with additional science labs, a sports medicine classroom and special education classrooms.

“Third, the fifth grade classes can go back to their elementary schools from East Grand Middle School where we had to move them this year. And fourth, the improved and expanded auditorium and gym space at the high school can be used by the community as well as for school activities,” he said.

Rankin said the construction of the additions at the three schools should be able to handle long-term enrollment growth for up to 15 years based upon the district’s projections.

The consequences of the 3A bond’s failure could also be long-term, he emphasized.

“If for some reason the bond does not pass, the need is not going away,” Rankin said. “We’ll have to bring it back to the voters in the 2008 election, but Neenan estimates it will probably cost another $1 million over this year’s cost due to inflation.”

Before a bond is finally passed, the district will be forced to “continue with business as usual, which means larger class sizes,” Rankin said. He explained that the only alternative to building the additions to the three schools is purchasing modular classrooms.

“But that only addresses the elementary classroom situations,” he said. “It does nothing to deal with the needs at the high school where the additional science labs and athletic space are needed. And you cannot slam down modulars to increase the size of the high school’s commons area.”

Another issue the bond is meant to address is school safety and security. Part of the proposed work is remodeling entrance areas in all three buildings to hopefully prevent outside perpetrators from easily entering them. In recent years,

hostage-taking and shooting incidents at schools have occurred when outsiders entered the buildings unchallenged.

“When those three schools were built, it was a different age when you didn’t have to worry about such things happening,” Rankin said. “But times have changed, and school safety and security has to be a priority now.”

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