New school under construction in Elbert

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Construction work is well underway on a new $20.6 million school in the Town of Elbert and school district officials confirmed last week that the new facility remains on track to open in the fall of 2014.

“Workers are putting up the pre-cast walls around the gym,” said the district's business manager, Bev McGuire. “With the recent rain, they are a few days behind schedule but there are areas where they can catch up.”

The 73,000-square-foot construction project will include a separate 3,000-square-foot maintenance facility and “bus shed,” said McGuire.

There will be a total of 21 preschool-through-12th-grade classrooms in the new school as well as a cafeteria, library, gymnasium and auxiliary gym.

“The auxiliary gym will be used for things like graduations,” said McGuire. “That's where the stage will be.”

The project was financed, in part, by a $17.3 million state BEST grant.

“The grant does not allow us to build for growth,” said McGuire. “But the classrooms in the new facility will be a little bigger than the ones in the old school.”

The school district qualified for the grant when voters in 2012 approved a $2.8 million bond issue, which passed by a relatively slim 52 percent to 48 percent margin.

Two earlier attempts to pass a school bond in Elbert were unsuccessful.

Elbert's current school, home to some 200 students, was built in the 1930s and has been added on to seven times over the years, said McGuire.

Elbert's new school will be the county's second new public school to open in the past two years: the Big Sandy Schools, a new preschool-through-12th-grade facility in Simla, opened at the beginning of the 2013 school year.

In 2012, Elbert was one of 14 districts across the state to pass local funding mechanisms to qualify for a Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST grant, which were offered through the Colorado Department of Education.