DEL NORTE— The Del Norte School District has a year full of changes on the horizon as school officials prepare for a November election to pass a bond issue through Rio Grande County. Earlier this summer, the school district was one of many Colorado districts to be awarded funding through the BEST (Building Excellent Schools Today) program to help with costs associated with building a new school.
According to a press release submitted by the Colorado Department of Education, a total of $295.6 million in school grant projects was awarded, including the Del Norte School District. This is the second time the school has applied for the grant, the first of which was unsuccessful. Superintendent Chris Burr stated that the district was awarded just over $27 million to help with costs associated with the estimated $45 million project. The next step for the district will be to get the bond passed for the remaining $18 million. Burr stressed that the issue with most of the residents that will be affected by the bond, is the length of time the tax will be increased in the town.
This coming year, students grades third through eighth will be in the middle school building. The Underwood elementary building was closed prior to the completion of the BEST application as a means to be approved for the grant and will no longer be used due to the fact that has been listed as condemned and unfit for school activities. Students kindergarten through second will be in the Mesa building with all of the administration offices.
Burr continued, stating that school officials have worked through the summer to open all of the unused classrooms at Mesa Elementary to accommodate the increase in student use. One of the other goals for officials this summer was to make the entry into the school more secure, making it safer for students and staff while at the building.
In the mean time, as officials prepare for the bond issue in November, a bond committee has been formed and will be meeting for the second time right before school starts in mid-August. Burr explained that the committee is working on a series of public meetings to help inform the public of the bond issue and how the remainder of the BEST program will progress if it passes. Though the committee has yet to set any hard dates for the public meetings, Burr explained that they hope to begin right before school starts.
“Everything about this is exciting for the school as well as the community. We deserve a new school, our students especially. I am personally looking forward to all of it,” said Burr. Students will resume classes on Aug. 21. Burr stated that above anything else that is going on, he and the staff at the Del Norte School District are looking forward to making this year as easy as possible on students, their parents and staff. “School just isn’t school without the children during the summer. The changes we’ve made will help the school year pass easily and I am looking forward to getting started,” finished Burr.
Dates and times for the public meetings will be released as soon as they have been set. Parents can visit the school’s website to stay up to date on any new information at www.dscsd.org.