Bayfield School District voters approved extension of an existing bond issue in 2012, to build the now completed addition at the high school and the new BHS baseball field that will have its grand opening and first game tomorrow.
Also included in that bond extension was $715,000 to buy 40 acres south of the middle school for a future school.
The school district has had a committee working on the next bond issue to build that school and possibly an addition on the elementary school.
Superintendent Troy Zabel told the school board on March 17, "We are feeling more and more that we should do (a bond election) in 2016" instead of this fall, when there will be a school board election.
"Holding a bond election when we have three board seats up creates an opportunity for a more political election," he said. Plus, he wants to finish some existing capital improvement projects this year with the remaining bond extension money before going to voters again.
He told the Times, "The bond would be to build a school on the 40 acres, to alleviate issues at the primary school." The student population there (kindergarten and 1st grade) is too high, he said. "But the new building may not be a primary school. We haven't determined what grades the building will be."
He told the school board, "There are things we really need to address, such as the drop-off area at the elementary. We may need to add onto the existing elementary."
Zabel expressed hope that money from recreational marijuana sales and excise taxes will make money available again from the Colorado Department of Education BEST fund for school construction. He said Bayfield might qualify for that.
A share of the cost for the new Ignacio Elementary School came from that. BEST funding generally requires voter approval of bonding to pay the rest of the cost.
Zabel advised, "We'll have to have money set aside for design work to get cost estimates for the new building on the new site, to know how much money to ask for" in a bond election. "We have a lot of discussion around configuration," which grades will be in which schools. "We all agree we will keep the study group and the bond group active."
Board members Carol Blatnick and Tim Stumpf agreed.
Finance Director Amy Lyons noted there are issues at the primary school that need to be addressed.
Zabel added that the old gym in the old white school, currently used for a computer lab, could be converted to a classroom.
The primary school could end up as a preschool. Zabel told the Times, "One of our hopes is when we go for a bond, to take the existing site and establish a district preschool in the primary building."
As discussed at the March 17 meeting, it could include a Head Start component. There are families in the Bayfield district that take kids to Head Start in Durango or Ignacio. "We haven't gone beyond that," Zabel told the Times. "The goal is to serve those families better."
He clarified that Head Start is specifically designed for low-income families and includes some services that aren't part of a general preschool program. The Head Start program could run within the district preschool program.
Asked if this would duplicate what the BEEP preschool does, he said, "I think it's serving a different population than BEEP. Different needs. We aren't trying to compete with BEEP. It would probably be more special needs. I think we'd complement each other."
BEEP executive director Carol Blatnick, who is on the school board, said, "BEEP has been asked to do some Head Start, and there weren't enough (kids) to justify the paperwork. The beauty of Head Start is it's paid for by the federal government."
Zabel said, "If the numbers are there, it's a good thing to do for the community."
The board was okay with Zabel doing more research on this.