The Bayfield School District is embarking on building its first new school in 18 years. Bayfield High School was completed in 1997. Other construction projects since then have been renovations, such as converting the old high school into Bayfield Middle School, or the 2012 addition of the auditorium and baseball field at BHS.
The district is proposing a $37.2 million bond issue this November to build a new elementary school for third through fifth grades on 40 acres near Bayfield Middle School.
On Tuesday, Superintendent Troy Zabel and Amy Lyons, the district's finance director, met with parents and community members at the Bayfield Primary School to discuss the formation of a community group to support the bond issue.
The district is proposing a building for grades 3-5 because Bayfield is on the small side to support two K-5 elementary schools, Zabel said. The bond issue would provide for some shared facilities with the middle school, such as a bigger gym in the new school, and better parking and improved entrances and traffic control at the current schools.
The district currently has $14 million to $15 million in debt, and some of that will be retired in the next few years, Lyons said.
The school district has applied for an $8.6 million state grant to pay for part of the construction. Zabel said they will find out at the end of May if they have received the grant.
"Please make it big enough!" Phyllis Ludwig only half joked when commenting on the proposed new campus. The Bayfield grandmother said she's always amazed at how quickly new schools fill when they're built in Bayfield.
Zabel said that has been a priority. The new school would help the district be able to grow another 20 percent.
If the district receives the state grant, and voters approve the bond, a homeowner would pay approximately $16.75 a month more in property taxes on a $280,000 home, explained Dan O'Connell of RBS Capital Markets, which is working with the district on the proposed bond. If the district doesn't receive the grant, the amount would increase to $21.42 per month. These figures will change based on the district's assessed value, he added.
Carol Blatnick, a member of the Bayfield School Board, said many residents don't realize how much the district has grown, with about 200 kindergarten students now divided into seven classrooms.
Another parent attending the meeting asked if there are other grants available to help pay for new schools.
Zabel said the BEST state grants are the largest. The district can apply for smaller ones from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, or the Safe Routes to School program to help pay for sidewalks.
One of the main priorities of the district "is to get this building vacated," Zabel said, referring to the west wing of the aging primary school, which the district originally vacated in 1996. As school populations have grown larger, however, the primary school has had to expand back into the old classrooms.