Much of D60 bond-funded work underway
Although the marquee projects of the Pueblo School District 60 $218 million bond program are still in the design phase, much of the work funded by property taxpayers is underway.
The centerpiece of the bond program is the building of two new state-of-the-art high schools to replace East and Centennial.
Through the design process, powered by input from stakeholders and the school communities, floor plans for the new schools have been presented, along with infrastructure and mechanical details.
The new Centennial would be built on land occupied by the school’s practice fields. East’s suggested construction site is at the corner of Constitution and Macalester roads: site of the school’s baseball field.
Each school would share the same floor plan, which as proposed includes the following:
• 20 collaborative “learning studios” (classrooms.)
• Three lecture halls.
• Multiple science and miscellaneous labs.
• Academic and student commons areas.
• Art studios.
• Library “information commons.”
• A 1,300- to 1,500-capacity gymnasium.
• Athletic training areas.
• A 500-seat auditorium.
• Band and choir areas.
• Career and technical education areas.
“The design process is now finalizing the schematic design and shifting to the developmental design phase,” said Bob Lawson, executive director of facilities and construction management for the district. “This will include actual finishes and all of the detail necessary to start the construction plan documents.”
In mid-August, another Design Advisory Group meeting is slated, with town hall meetings scheduled to resume in September.
A construction timeline notes that the two new high schools should be ready for occupancy in the first half of 2024.
Once the design plans are in hand, state permits will be applied for, which is expected to take three months. This would be followed by a six-week final subcontractor bidding process, after which the actual construction process will begin.
It’s projected that the two schools will be built over a 21-month span, concluding in January 2023.
Including the high school design work, 14 of the 17 bond-funded projects planned for 2020 are underway.
The work being conducted includes replacement of door hardware at 11 schools; a roof replacement and site repairs at Highland Park Elementary; electrical system replacements at Highland Park and Minnequa Elementary; the demolition of the former Heroes K-8 Academy; and project engineering development of the sanitary sewer and plumbing system replacements at Central and South high schools and Highland Park.
Electrical replacements at Minnequa and Highland Park began in late June, and Lawson said the contractor is on schedule.
As for the door hardware projects, Lawson said the engineering and specifications have been completed, “and all of the door hardware replacement projects are now being advertised for contractors to perform the work.”
At Heroes, Lawson said abatement of hazardous materials and a portion of the interior demolition work is 45% complete.
“The project is still on schedule to be completed later this fall,” he added. “And several other district projects are in the development phase, including the HVAC replacement at South.”
As there has been some public interest in saving the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium at Centennial, Lawson said the district is currently researching cost and attendance history to determine the viability of relocation.
"It was not included in the funding of the new Centennial building,“ said Lawson of a potential relocation.
As part of the bond program, new schools will be built to replace the aging Sunset Park Elementary and Franklin School of Innovation.
Using the bond proceeds budgeted to make infrastructure repairs at the two schools as matching funds, the district was successful in securing two Building Excellent Schools Today grants: endowments that will be used to construct new schools.
Overall, Lawson expects the bond program to bring as much as $300 million worth of construction work to the community, with much of the labor to be performed by Pueblo-based personnel.
A Citizens Bond Advisory Committee, formed by the district to ensure transparency in the spending of bond funds, has been meeting virtually throughout the pandemic.
Both Lawson and D60 Chief Financial Officer David Horner participate in the meetings in an ex officio status to provide appropriate levels of support and guidance.
Chieftain reporter Jon Pompia can be reached by email at email@example.com or at twitter.com/jpompia. Help support local journalism by subscribing to the Chieftain at chieftain.com/subscribenow