The money situation is good, so some “add alternatives” are being included with Yuma School District-1’s $32 million expansion/renovation project.
The Yuma-1 Board of Education approved the four additional upgrades during its regular monthly meeting Monday night, though the approval for the YHS Commons upgrade was only a preliminary thumbs-up to do an investigation meant to discover if it could be done within certain financial constraints.
All five board members participated in the meeting, with Dan Ross, Kim Langley, Lindsey Galles and Thomas Holtorf attending in-person, and Duane Brown remotely.
Total cost for the four upgrades is an estimated at a little under $900,000, though general contractor Neenan Archistruction has $100,000 to put toward the bus loop at the YMS/MES campus, putting the district’s share at around $800,000. Also the board actually approved a little more than $600,000 in expenditures Monday night as the Commons project will be up for approval at a later date.
The board was told the district still has $3.2 million in owner’s contingency, leaving $2 million or more for any other potential costs that could pop-up as the project proceeds.
Chad Rayl with owner’s representative Project One said the only real unknown left is possible abatement costs when renovating the current classroom wings.
The additions had to be added now so they can be included with work that will be done in the summer, the board was told.
A bus loop on the east side of the MES/YMS campus already was installed prior to the school year. However, it became too late in the year to complete the project with paving. Rayl and Superintendent Dianna Chrisman recommended Monday night the loop be paved in concrete, rather than asphalt. Automated cross arms activated only by the bus drivers, thus keeping other traffic off the loop, will be installed.
Then there is the south parking lot at Yuma High School, between the new Aux Pit and the outdoor sports complex. The recommendation is to repave it with asphalt, though upon questioning by Brown it was learned the option to use concrete also will be pursued.
This project included either adding five more lights in the parking lot for an additional $40,000 or no lights. Ross asked several questions about the need for more lights, now that the lot is illuminated by lights from the new gym, stressing he just didn’t want it to be too lit up, or light poles interfere with snow removal. In the end, the board approved the south parking lot upgrade with lights.
The next had to do with “storefront” additions to the east side of the current high school. The new Aux Pit includes attractive glass entrances and doors. The idea is to blend in the east side with similar glass entrances and doors at the band room and the Commons entrance, which currently is the main entrance to the high school. There was some discussion about the four corner entrances to The Pit, but it was pointed out the district could use some of its own funds if it wanted to do those locations also, since it would not fit into the “scope” of the BEST Grant-funded project.
Then there is the Commons upgrade, which the board was told would amount to $250,000 to $275,000 if approved. It would include new lighting, cosmetic paint, update the doors to the storage areas, expand the hard-floor surface, and tie-in with the new carpet in the classrooms wings that meet up with the Commons.
The board approved spending $12,000 on design and “investigation” work on the potential Commons upgrade. Approval for moving forward with the Commons project could be before the board by the March meeting.
Chrisman and Rayl also updated the board on the “phasing” schedule as the project moves forward.
Demolition work on the band and art room wing has been undergoing since December, and is scheduled to be ready for students when the 2021-22 school year begins.
However, all the phases — or “mods” — are going to be kicking in at the same time after the current school year is done in mid-May. The bulk of the building will be inaccessible from May 17 until the start of the new school year, the board was told.
The work includes the renovation of the current library and administration office area, completion of the new wing that will include the new main entrance, main parking lot and administration offices. The Pit will get new handrails, and the new wing will be ready for the new school year, as well as the main parking lot in front.
Chrisman noted that while last summer was busy, the summer of 2021 will be 10-fold as much.
While Yuma School District-1’s $32 million renovation/expansion project dominated much of Monday’s regular monthly meeting of the Yuma-1 Board of Education, there was other matters addressed.
Marylu Smith-Dischner, the Northeastern Junior College Yuma Campus coordinator, brought the board up to date during the meeting.
She related an article in the Sunday Denver Post featuring how enrollment has declined in the Colorado Community College System in the past year. She explained that NJC opened the Yuma campus after a survey showed that the Yuma region has the highest number of high school graduates that do not leave the community, indicating there was an opportunity to help people of all ages to take college courses.
NJC recently was awarded a $1.93 million Rise Grant to help in the expansion of adult education classes, being more aggressive in reaching Hispanics, and providing a pathway to nursing programs.
Smith-Dischner told the board that the main efforts currently of the NJC Yuma campus is GED classes, which attracts a board cross-section of the community, as well as adult ESL classes, which include many parents of current Yuma schools students.
She said the Yuma campus also is reaching out to high school students to help them with FAFSA, scholarships and college applications, along with helping students who are seeking the prestigious Daniels Scholarship.
Smith-Dischner also explained the NJC Yuma campus has a lot of space, which has been utilized by some YHS classes, the new autism center and others. Yuma-1 board member Duane Brown noted later that YHS could be in need for some classroom space next semester as the district’s renovation/expansion project is completed. Other board members agreed it could be beneficial to take advantage of the campus’ classroom space next semester. Smith-Dischner noted it might work well as YHS mostly needs the space during the day, while NJC demands for classroom space mostly is at night.
As for having live in-person instructors at the NJC Yuma campus, Smith-Dischner said COVID-19 has slowed those plans, as well as there currently not being enough students to hold live classes in Yuma.
There also was discussion about NJC night classes being able to count toward a YHS student’s regular schedule. Both entities indicated they are on board with that idea.
Also, Chrisman reported that NJC committed two years ago to pay nearly all the costs of concurrent enrollment of YHS students. She said she had been worried NJC could not continue that considering the current situation with COVID and declining enrollment. However, she said NJC has told her they will continue to honor that commitment.
Rest of meeting
• The board unanimously ratified the “snow day” closure of January 27.
• The original plan was to have the board vote on the 2021-22 school calendar at the February meeting. However, that has been moved to the March monthly meeting as the district still is finalizing some extra days off for YHS in early 2022 to complete the move-in after the expansion/renovation project is completed. The rest of the district’s grades would still have regular school days.
• Donations approved Monday involved $375 from the Knights of Columbus to special education, and $13,000 in disinfection chemicals from the Yuma County COVID Task Force.
• Recommended hirings approved by the board were for Semitria Silva as custodian, Steve Desmond for maintenance, and Mariana Duarte as custodian. Recommended separations and resignations approved by the board included Lori Schaefer as YMS secretary, Kris VanDeraa as ESL district coordinator, Mirian Molinar as custodian and Alma Perez as custodian.