Bayfield superintendent explains school bond issue

Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016 2:22 PM

Editor's note: This is a condensed version of a letter sent to Bayfield School District parents on Aug. 4.

By Troy Zabel

I am so grateful to be part of this community, starting my sixth year as superintendent of the Bayfield School District, and would like to take this opportunity to highlight the upcoming bond election and health issues I am facing that ultimately have an impact on the district this year.

2016 Bond InitiativeThe Bayfield Elementary Primary School was constructed from 1925-1972, with current deficiencies:

Significant building safety issues and disrepair.Overcrowding - recommended capacity is 200; projected enrollment is 220.No longer serves the safety and educational needs of today's K-1 students.The Bayfield Elementary School was constructed in 1988, with an addition in 1996, with current deficiencies:

Building safety issues.Overcrowding - recommended capacity is 400; projected enrollment is 450.Significant traffic safety issues, specifically related to parent drop-off and pick-up.The Bayfield Middle School was constructed in 1977 with renovations in 2001, and current deficiencies:

Safety issues due to no dedicated parent drop-off and pick-up loop. Safety issues due to no turn lanes and vehicular stacking capability on East Oak Drive.Need for more gymnasium space for middle school practices and competition, as well as community use.SolutionsOver the past three years, the district has assembled diverse advisory and design committees, contracted with architectural firms and engineering firms, consulted with teachers and staff, conducted community surveys, and held a public open house to determine how to best address what follows. Through this process, the district has determined the best long-term approach to meet the district's current facility needs, while also preparing for inevitable growth is to do the following:

Build a 3-5 school adjacent to the existing Bayfield Middle School, including a gymnasium equipped for middle school and community use, improvements to two road intersections and East Oak Drive, and traffic circulation improvements at BMS. Estimated cost - $27.3 million.Renovate and expand the existing BES for grades K-2, including traffic circulation improvements and safety enhancements. Estimated cost - $8.4 million.The district has been awarded a Building Excellent Schools Today grant from the Colorado Department of Education to help fund the projects, with an estimated total cost of $37.2 million.

The BEST grant is $8.568 million (24 percent of project cost) and is contingent upon passage of a local bond of $28.632 million (76 percent of cost) in November 2016.

The BEST board recognized BEPS as the highest priority school replacement currently in the state of Colorado.

BenefitsProvide safe and secure buildings.Alleviate overcrowding at BEPS and BES.Traffic and safety improvements at BES and BMS.Increase in shared facility and gymnasium space.Take advantage of $8.568 million contingent state BEST grant and historically low interest rates.School improvements generate economic growth, infuse constructions dollars into our community, improve businesses, and maintain and improve property values.CostsTotal project cost of $37.2 million, less BEST grant of $8.568 million equals $28.632 million cost to our local taxpayers.$6/month for every $100,000 residential market value.$200/annually for an average home valued at $280,000.SummaryThe solutions proposed represent the best long-term solution for the current and future facility needs of the district. In a competitive grant process with more than $123 million in applications and only $60 million in funds available, the state of Colorado selected Bayfield School District as the highest priority school replacement in the state. The district recognizes the importance of taking advantage of this contingent state grant as it will significantly decrease the burden on taxpayers while addressing critical school infrastructure needs.

It is important to note that in 2012, the district leveraged the restructuring of existing debt that allowed us to address goals that were identified through the strategic plan without having to raise yearly tax bills. This gave us the capacity to construct the new performing arts center, auxiliary gym and baseball field, and most importantly, purchase a 40-acre parcel of property that would allow us to address the critical building needs that we face today.

It is important to note that the restructuring of debt that was contained within the 2012 bond would have only given us the capacity to address about one quarter of our funding needs for the current project proposal.

Health issuesIn mid-June, I was diagnosed with an extremely rare brain cancer that is difficult to treat (Gliosarcoma). We have developed a comprehensive coverage plan for the times that I am unavailable for district work. I am proud of the team we have developed over my past five years in Bayfield, and I know that our students are in good hands whether I'm sitting behind my desk in Bayfield or in treatment in Denver.

GeneralOur staff is committed to providing students learning experiences that build confidence, promote critical thinking, fuel curiosity, expand intelligence, kindle creativity, nurture a sense of self, and most importantly, prepare your children for the range of opportunities and challenges they will encounter in life.

Our continued progress toward this goal necessitates a meaningful partnership between our staff, students, parents and the community. I invite you to become involved. All schools and the district have accountability teams and other committees that welcome your participation. Contact your individual school or the district office to ask how you can become involved and help make the Bayfield School District the best it can be.