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RANGELY — Schools on both ends of the county are showing signs of old age.
Meeker’s school district will ask voters in the Nov. 4 general election to approve a $24 million bond issue to build a new elementary school — to replace the current one, which is nearly 70 years old — and also make improvements to the high school and middle school.
Now, the Rangely School Board has announced it will have a $15 million bond question on the November ballot. The board approved the measure at a special meeting last Thursday.
“Keeping our schools safe and up-to-date must be a priority for our district,” said School Board President Matt Scoggins.
According to a news release, the ballot question will ask voters in the Rangely district “to approve funding for building renovation, technology upgrades and transportation needs.”
Rangely Superintendent Dwayne Newman, who for the past five years was principal at Meeker High School, said an energy audit and a facilities needs assessment show the district’s schools “are in need of major renovation in areas like fire alarms, heating, roofing, paving and access for people with handicaps.”
He noted examples such as cracked sidewalks and walls and water-stained ceiling tiles as visible evidence of soil settling and leaking roofs.
“We also have significant needs that are not as visible,” Newman said, who doubles as principal of Rangely Middle School. “Last week we had to call the police dispatch and tell them to disregard repeated alarm from our entry warning system. The system is simply old and it developed a short that our people cannot fix.”
Newman said the district’s schools show wear and tear from 20 plus years of use. Parkview Elementary was built in 1978, while Rangely’s middle school and high school were built in 1984 and 1986, respectively.
“Our heating and cooling systems have lost efficiency over the years and it’s time to upgrade them before we have another major problem,” he said.
Last spring, Parkview Ele-mentary experienced boiler failure. Thanks to money from the County Capital Improvements Trust Fund, the district was able to buy a new boiler for the elementary school, which is in the process of being installed.
The project would fund renovations to all three Rangely schools.
“The bond payment would come from increased property taxes, just like in Meeker,” Newman said, adding the cost for a homeowner would be an additional $1.71 per month on a $100,000 house.
Initially, the Rangely School Board estimated the cost of the renovations at $13 million. However, the board settled on the $15 million amount for two reasons.
“One, the audit is two years past and the cost of construction materials have increased tremendously,” Newman said. “The second is the need to have a significant percentage in contingency.
“When you renovate a building, you never really know what you face in costs until you get into the work,” he added. “I think the board was wise to ask for a higher amount. If the current cost estimates remain accurate, we can always repay a portion of the bond early. If not, then we have enough reserve funding to do the jobs right.”
The school bond project would include renovations as well as buying several new buses and upgrading outdated student computers.
“We have done our best to get accurate cost figures; however, we all know significant costs can be lurking just under the surface,” Scoggins said. “Considering that the overall cost to increase from $13 million to $15 million would be less than $8 per year on a $200,000 home, it seemed prudent to make sure we have enough funds.”