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Shifting Gears: Building Project Update

VRHS addition locationIt is both a pleasure and privilege to serve the families and students who make up the fastest growing school district in the state of Colorado. As we answer the call for new and needed learning space across D49, we are excited to report the near completion of a significant expansion, announce some new initiatives and provide an update on a project that is currently on hold. 

That project is Elevation Middle School, a new campus in the Sand Creek Zone near the intersection of Marksheffel and Barnes on the east side of Colorado Springs. Initially scheduled to open the fall semester of 2024, the Army Corps of Engineers has put an extended hold on the project as the developers must address drainage issues that impact the subdivision and EMS campus site. An updated timeline has not been provided, but D49 still plans to open EMS as middle school space will be needed in the near future. 

This unexpected delay has created new opportunities to prioritize other projects that will address immediate needs within D49. The district’s voter-approved funding strategy allows companies/businesses to invest in certificates of participation for large-scale building projects. Because there are parameters and timelines on how we spend those dollars, we are shifting gears to address these other projects. 

“We have the benefit of taking a breath,” said Dr. Louis Fletcher, interim director of facilities and operations. “We can do the work to build D49 in the way it’s supposed to be built to serve our students and teachers.”

VRHS addition drawingD49 will add an education wing onto Vista Ridge High School, which is currently beyond student capacity. This much-needed space will relieve the capacity concerns and include classrooms for career and technical education. We will break ground this spring and open during the 23-24 school year. 

In addition, we will increase our tempo for building the board of education approved transportation center next to the Falcon Legacy Campus and create new space for early childhood education on the Horizon Middle School campus. D49 project managers are also assessing a long list of repairs on existing D49 facilities which need immediate attention to ensure our students and staff are learning and working in safe environments. 

“We saw the opportunity to make the things we have better,” Fletcher continued, “to start building what is needed for this district to have another 10,000 students–which is an easy projection over the next 10 years, and taking care of those costs early.”

Last, but certainly not least, the expansion of the Firebird Nation campus at Bennett Ranch Elementary School will wrap early this summer. The new wing will provide additional space for Falcon Middle School sixth-graders and welcome students on the first day of school this August. 

“Everything we do, we are doing for the students. We’re doing it to give the student a better environment and a better place where they can learn. We are putting a stake in the ground to say ‘This is our community, that’s how it’s growing,’” Fletcher added. “We’re going to make smart decisions at the right time and be agile while dealing with these things, so we can be good stewards for what the community wants for the students.” 

Additional information: Bruce Brown, facilities project manager, provided a building and project update to the board of education on Feb. 9. You can watch the presentation on the BOE Youtube channel.