Platte Canyon School District RE-1 hosted the first of two community meetings to seek community input on two facility options proposed for the bond issue on the November ballot. Voters are asked to approve the district bond issue. Community input will drive which facilities option will then be implemented.

The first meeting took place at Deer Creek Elementary School Friday evening. There were 22 community members present with nine of them PCSD staff, PCSD board members Katie Spodyak and Sheri Bezzant were present.

Superintendent Mike Schmidt opened the meeting with a welcome for everyone attending.  Schmidt stated, “The purpose of the meeting is to get feedback on facilities options.” Schmidt explained how the district’s buildings have been maintained over the years to the best of their abilities.

When the proposal to improve the facilities was agreed upon with the Board of Education, the district realized they lacked the expertise to complete a plan. The State encouraged the district to engage a professional organization to help develop a Master Plan.  

Upon the State’s recommendation, the district hired RTA Architectural Firm from Colorado Springs. RTA’s annual work is 50% educational. Out of 170 school districts in Colorado, RTA has completed 14 educational district-wide master plans, completed 52 additions/alterations to K-12 schools, built ten new elementary/K-8 schools, built four new preschools and built three new high schools.

The Master Plan Committee with RTA included business owners, district staff and community members. This committee has had four meetings.  

Schmidt acknowledged Spodyak stating, “She has led this process.”

Facility Condition Index

According to RTA, a Facility Condition Index or FCI is “a standard management benchmark that is used to objectively assess the current and projected condition of a building.”  

A FCI takes into consideration the repairs that are needed to maintain the building at “a level that will allow for it to continue to provide an environment that supports the education of students.”

To calculate the FCI, the total cost of building repairs is divided by the replacement cost of a facility. The building repairs include HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems), electrical systems, interior construction and conveyance, site, exterior enclosure, fire protection, plumbing systems, equipment, furnishings, special construction and structure.  

An FCI of .50 or 50%, indicates a building is in need of major renovation or replacement.  An FCI of .66 or 66% indicates a replacement is needed for the building. The average FCI rating statewide is .40 or 40%.

Deer Creek Elementary School has a FCI of .87 or 87%. “The school has been taken care of, but the buildings have working systems that are very old,” stated the RTA representative. “These systems (HVAC, plumbing, mechanical and electrical) are ticking time bombs.” Deer Creek rates in the top five worst school facilities in Colorado.

Fitzsimmons Middle School and Platte Canyon High School were rated together and received a .46 or 46% FCI. While PCHS is in good condition, FMS brought the rating down.

The Platte Canyon Administration Building/Classrooms received a FCI of .60 or 60%.

Master Plan Process

RTA representatives explained that there have been five phases of the master plan process.  Phase A was Discovery. Phase B was Investigations. Phase C was Master Plan Development.  Phase D is Bond Issuance Assistance. Phase E will be BEST Grant Assistance.

BEST Grants were explained as funds that are distributed by the state to districts based on need.  Last year, $600 million was applied for with $300 million distributed. The consultants felt PCSD has a very good chance of receiving a BEST Grant since the district has been in contact with the State since the beginning of the process.

The Master Plan Committee began with seven to eight options for facilities. The RTA representative explained that the Rosalie property was evaluated and is not an option. The property does not have enough building space. To bring water and utilities onto the property is too expensive

The group worked down to two options. The bond issue funds with the BEST Grant would cover the expenses of the two remaining options. Now it is up to the citizens to determine what is the most important option for the community.

Option A

Option A maintains both district campuses with a renovation of the Deer Creek Campus.  Currently Deer Creek Elementary has a building area of 59,096 square feet that includes six modular buildings at 8,400 square feet. The building includes one gymnasium, one cafetorium, a full kitchen and Boys and Girls Club. The school is considered a three-round school for preschool to fifth grade. A three-round school means there are three classrooms for each grade level.

At Deer Creek, Option A would renovate 49,696 square feet and add an additional 10,000 square feet to house preschool and a secure administration area and entrance. The school would be completely renovated with all systems in addition to an efficient sprinkler system. Classrooms, the gym, cafetorium, kitchen and Boys and Girls Club would all be renovated. All modulars on the property would be removed.

Option A also combines FMS and PCHS while keeping the students separated either by floors or pods. A new gym would be built while taking out the existing gyms in the administration building leaving FMS with one gym and PCHS with one gym. Administration would be renovated and the bus depot would be moved into the administration building.

The existing square footage for the district is 257,727 square feet. Option A would consolidate some square footage, giving the district 210,696 square feet, making the district 18% more efficient.

The pros to Option A are listed as:

1. Keeping younger students on a more protected site from traffic and wind

2. Pleasant shady site

3. Keeps elementary school near population center

The cons to Option A are listed as:

1. Continues district inefficiencies (administration, transportation, food service, etc.)

2. Wildfire risk is higher (vs. Platte Canyon site)

3. Construction logistics on an occupied site

Option B

Option B consolidates the district facilities onto one campus.

The distance from the intersection of Park County Rd. 43A and U.S. Highway 285 to the new elementary school site is seven miles, not a huge difference from driving back to the current Deer Creek campus.

Deer Creek Preschool and Deer Creek Elementary would be built on the site of the administration building with Marge E. Hudak Pool becoming encased in the new school. The new building would have 60,000 square feet with 48,000 square feet on the first floor and 12,000 square feet on the second floor. A new gymnasium, one cafetorium and a warming kitchen would be included in the new school. The school would again be a three round school housing preschool to fifth grade. The practice football field would be built into a new playground.

FMS and PCHS would again be combined with FMS being torn down. The bus depot would be moved to the site and administration added.  

Option B creates a total square footage of 189,000 square feet.  This makes the district 27% more efficient.

The pros to Option B are listed as:

1. Creates long-term district efficiencies (administration, transportation, food service, etc.

2.Safer in a wildfire event (vs. Deer Creek)

3.Curriculum flexibility across a single campus

The cons to Option B are listed as:

1. Elementary school moves away from population center

2. 285 traffic access

3.Windy site that is not good for young kids

Citizen Questions

There were several questions asked during the meeting that were addressed.

1. Haven’t there been water issues at the Deer Creek Campus?

Schmidt answered, “The water issues at Deer Creek have been addressed.  This has not been an issue in four to five years.”

2. What happens to the auditorium at the administration building?

“The auditorium would be removed with a stage area added to the new gymnasium which is common for a school this size,” responded RTA.

3. Why isn’t the cost of selling the Deer Creek property included in the figures?

“While there are lots of opportunities of what could happen at the DC site, the money is not factored in because the market values change frequently,” explained RTA.

4. How do we move forward to pass the bond issue?

RTA explained that the school district has put the issue on the Nov ballot. The language for and against the bond issue will be in the County Bluebook. However, district officials cannot campaign for the passage of the bond.

School Board Member Sheri Bezzant replied, “We need people to write letters in support to The Flume.”

School Board President Kati Spodyak added, “We wanted this to be an open process. That is why these meetings are important. Feedback is very important.”

“The Board choose to go forward because the time is now,” Schmidt stated. “With Deer Creek rated in the top five worst schools in the state, we have to do what is best for our students and our community.”

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