Jeffco Schools bond projects progressing

Board talks construction costs and search for new superintendent

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 1/14/21

On Jan. 7, 2021, the Jeffco Board of Education held their first meeting of the new year. Up first on the agenda was a fourth quarter 2020 update on the 2018 Bond and Capital Improvement Projects …

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Jeffco Schools bond projects progressing

Board talks construction costs and search for new superintendent

Posted

On Jan. 7, 2021, the Jeffco Board of Education held their first meeting of the new year. Up first on the agenda was a fourth quarter 2020 update on the 2018 Bond and Capital Improvement Projects currently underway.

Timothy Reed, Executive Director Facilities & Construction at Jeffco Public Schools, led things off by saying it’s been a great fall and early winter for construction projects. Next, the Board was walked through a short presentation highlighting progress on current construction projects, and those proposed for the next phase of work. The report also touched on fourth quarter 2020 financials, concluding with recommendations to make the reporting process more transparent and meaningful.

Currently, there are 12 schools in some stage of construction. Among the High Schools and Jr. Sr. High’s are Alameda, Columbine, Conifer, Green Mountain and Jefferson. Bell, Manning and Wayne Carle Middle Schools are all getting new additions. Parmalee and Lumberg Elementary Schools are undergoing renovations and Kendrick Lakes Elementary is being completely replaced.

In addition, a brand new Warren Tech South Campus, set to open in August, is being built on a plot of land adjacent to Dakota Ridge High School.

Other work currently being done includes Phase 1 of  a districtwide LED Replacement project and installation of new security cameras, districtwide.

Bond projects currently in the design phase include work at Evergreen, Pomona, Ralston Valley and Standley Lake High Schools and Evergreen Middle School. There are three elementary schools in the design phase, including Marshdale and Prospect Valley, which will both be completely replaced. The third elementary school on the list, Powderhorn, will receive an addition and undergo renovation. 

Also on tap for the next construction phase — Efficiency & Future Ready Projects, work on playgrounds, HVAC, flooring, new artificial turf & all-weather tracks, LED replacements and Furniture, Fixtures & Equiopment (FF&E) projects.

In regard to questions of bond finances, Reed said current funding stands at $745.6 million, which includes the premium on the second bond issuance, which occurred last month.

“From an expenses standpoint, we have performed about $46 million worth of construction over the quarter and our encumbrances have been reduced,” Reed said. “Right now we’re in a period where we’re doing primarily design work, while we still have construction going on, but most of those are the bigger projects that span the summer.”

According to the report, the District’s Charter Schools had about $6 million worth of construction done over the quarter.

As for the effect of current economic conditions on the program, Reed took an optimistic tone.

“Market conditions continue to be very good, if you have the resources to build,” he said. “We took bids yesterday on three roofing projects that we budgeted $1.57 million for, and bids came in at $1.25 million —  a significant savings there. One of the reasons that we’re moving projects like the replacement buildings up is that we want to be able to take advantage of what we feel is a very good, and favorable, construction market.” 

In an effort to make the program more transparent, Reed said the Capital Asset Advisory Committee will move their meeting dates to the third Thursday of the month, to avoid conflict with BOE meetings. He said this move will allow more review of projects and bids that have occurred during the course of the month, prior to discussion with the Board.

Reed said another change CAAC has talked about is to start looking at projects with significant overages — more than $500,000 as a threshold, to discuss and vote on with the committee. The committee’s recommendation (based on the outcome of the vote) would then be attached to agenda materials discussed by the Board.

Superintendent search

In other District news, the search for a new Superintendent of Jeffco Schools continues. On July 30, the Board of Education shared its intent to perform a national search for a new Superintendent. At the last board meeting in December, they began the process of defining the perimeters of the search including community engagement, planning, community survey planning and a search calendar.

Hank Gmitro of Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates is one of the consultants leading the search.

Gmitro started his update with a bit about confidentiality in the search process. In past searches, questions about the transparency of the process have been raised by Jeffco residents. Susan Harmon, Board President, said it was her understanding that the Board would continue its practice of keeping candidates’ identities confidential to attract the best pool of applicants.

State open meeting law calls on the district to make the list of all “finalists” to be made public.

Gmitro agreed with the decision, saying anonymity is a critical issue for candidates because of the level of distraction it can lead to in the candidate’s current job.

The topic then shifted to plans for community engagement to help shape the criteria the Board will use in their selection process.

David Bell, the District’s Chief Human Resources Officer said they have about 50 community engagement sessions scheduled, with the potential for another 20 if necessary. From Jan. 13 to Jan. 23, those sessions will be held and an online survey will be made available. 

Gmitro said typically, boards interview somewhere between five and seven candidates in the first round of a Superintendent search, and then narrow that down to a smaller group for a second round. 

Specific calendar dates around the search have yet to be determined. The proposed calendar shows the Board tentatively conducting a first round of interviews in late March. The semi-finalist interviews would take place in mid-April, and the new Superintendent would begin their tenure on July 1, 2021.

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