School officials and board members reiterated at the meeting Monday evening their desire to have the thoughts and recommendations of the community on a funding proposal that may appear on this fall’s ballot.

The school is hosting an open house and tour to help the public better understand the updates needed for the district.

Open houses, including school tours, are planned at Fowler Junior/Senior High School (600 Grant Ave.) at 10 a.m. June 1 and 6 p.m. June 4.

In a letter to the community that appears on the school district website, the district explains, "A tremendous amount of work has been done the past 18 months to evaluate the condition of both
Fowler Elementary School and Fowler Junior/Senior High School. This includes an updated Facility Condition Assessment prepared by the Colorado Department of Education and a Facilities Master Plan developed by a team of school district employees, community members, parents, students, architects and engineers."

The district goes on to state that studies of both school buildings indicate that the elementary schoiol is in good condition but requires some repairs and upgrades. Issues mentioned include exterior maintenance, safety and security, and lack of educational space.

"However, the biggest challenge facing the school is its location," the letter states. "Students must cross the highway several times a day to access the cafeteria and other educational-related spaces."

The more than 50-year old junior/senior high school building requires major repairs, the district goes on to say, including replacement of the roof, wood siding and exterior doors and hardware, as well as site drainage and circultaqion improvements.

On the interior, the building needs new mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems, as well as updated information technology infrastructure, in addition to other items.

Additionally, asbestos was discovered in the junior/senior high school building, the gym, C building and Ag building.

"As part of the master facilities planning efforts, various scenarios were developed to address the District’s highest priority facility needs," the district said in its letter to the community. "These scenarios range from simply tackling repairs and renovations to address safety, security and code-related issues at both schools to a larger proposal that includes building a new junior/senior high school attached to the existing elementary school."

The district said feedback it's already received indicates preference for consolidating schools on the same parcel of land, which would involve demolishing the current junior/senior high school building and constructing a replacement structure that would be attached to the south end of the elementary school.

Many other upgrades are included in the prooposal, which would amount to $48.3 million.

The district would like to pursue a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant from the Colorado Department of Education, but its chances of obtaining that funding improve if voters approve a bond measure.

"And if pursued this fall, the ballot language would stipulate that the bond funds could only be used for matching funds tied to a successful BEST grant," the district said in its letter to the community. "If a BEST grant was not awarded to Fowler School District, then the applicable mill levy would not go into effect.

"An alternative approach would be to seek a BEST grant first, and then pursue voter approval of matching funds in November 2020. This approach, however, reduces the District’s chances of obtaining a BEST grant. This is precisely why the Board of Education seeks the community’s input on pursuing a bond measure this fall."

The full text of the letter, as well as facilities master planning documents, are available for public viewing on the district’s website, fowler.k12.co.us under the “Master Plan” link on the homepage.

Individuals wishing to discuss the proposal in person, can contact District Superintendent Alfie Lotrich at 263-4625 or alfie.lotrich@fowler.k12.co.us.

The next meeting of the Fowler School Board is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 3 at the elementary school. Meetings are open to the public.