Some $700 million in repairs and improvements are needed at 14 D60 schools. The district determined it was more cost-effective to replace the two high schools, two elementary schools and a K-8 school and make renovations at the other buildings.
D60 superintendent Charlotte Macaluso said this project contributes to the viability of public education in Pueblo.
“It's an opportunity that really changes the life trajectory of our students for generations to come,” she said. “That's how important it is to have state-of-the-art educational facilities for our students.”
A $218 million voter-approved bond combined with state education grants will pay for the district-wide project. D60 facilities executive director Bob Lawson said they’re creating an educational experience set up for collaborative learning, innovative technology and energy efficiency.
“These are going to be the new flagship buildings of District 60, they're going to last for the next 50 years,” he said. “This is what schools of the future are going to look like. This is just remarkable for Pueblo."
The school buildings that will be replaced are: Centennial and East High Schools, Sunset Park Elementary, and Franklin School of Innovation. Another as yet unnamed K-8 school will be built on the site of the former Heroes K-8 Academy.
Estimated costs for the new high schools is nearly $76 million each. The replacement elementary schools are primarily funded by two state Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grants that total more than $32 million.
Favorable bond terms and construction cost savings are allowing the district to build the $30 million K-8 school within the original bond structure. This school will introduce Career and Technical Education for sixth through eighth graders including Criminal Justice and Law, Public Safety and Cybersecurity; Health Sciences and Biomedicine, Hospitality and Food Service and Business Marketing.
Lawson said the new buildings are designed to serve a smaller student population as a result of declining enrollment, but will have the capability to handle growth. He said work at all the schools will be complete by 2023.