Jefferson County School Board weighs construction options amid school overcrowding

ARVADA, Colo. - Jefferson County School District leaders say expansion is hitting Northwest Arvada and the enrollment boom is putting a lot of strain on classrooms throughout the district.

The old board directed the district to move forward on construction of a new K-6 school in the Candelas neighborhood built with $15 million left over from last year. However, district leaders are concerned that building a school at that price point may not be the best use of money.

“It’s tight, I mean, you could build something for $15 million, but does it meet the needs of what we need to do? That’s the question,” said Tim Reed, the Jefferson County School District’s Director of Facilities and Construction Management. “I think everybody -- and certainly the community up there -- recognizes the fact that you either build new seats or you’re looking at some very unpleasant options.”

The district has asked the new board to approve a bigger project costing $40 million and to be funded through Certificates of Participation. This is a funding mechanism where credits are sold to investors and then the district pays the investors back.

The $40 million project would complete construction on Sierra Elementary, in which phase one of a new school was built in 2006, however phase two was never started when a bond issue failed during the economic downturn in 2008.

Additionally, the money would build a larger K-8 school in Candelas instead of the K-6 school slated to break ground this spring.

West Woods Elementary is overcrowded by 100 students. Those extra students are learning in portable trailers that sit in the back of the school. 

Construction on five new trailers sitting in the schools front lawn is going on now.

“We’re doing what we can to make it better for our kids, they need the space to learn, if you went inside the classrooms it’s--it’s tight,” said Michalla Elders, who’s a parent at the school. “I feel that maybe a lot of the issues were not brought up before they agreed to develop all of this land and unfortunately this is what becomes of it, huge class sizes.”

The board is set to vote at tonight’s meeting, which begins at Jefferson County Schools Headquarters at 5:30 p.m.

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