Design advisory team gets down to business

School construction expected to start this summer

Although snow and ice still cover much of the campus, the Dolores School District Design Advisory Team (DAT) is working hard along with the Blythe Group Architectural Firm and KMPC, the Owner's Representative Firm, to have everything and everyone in place to break ground on the school additions and remodels soon after the school year ends. Weekly meetings are being held on Wednesdays at the district office. Public comments and suggestions are encouraged and welcomed. Interested parties should call the district office to find out meeting times as scheduled times may vary. The construction will be financed by the BEST Grant and matching bond that was passed by voters in November. The majority of these projects are being completed to improve health and safety of the students in Dolores Schools.

Currently, the team is meeting with all interested parties (students, teachers, coaches, administrators, parents and community members) to seek their input on the project as outlined in the district's BEST grant application. The major project will be replacing the outdated science and vocational/agricultural building. Early suggestions and input favor a two-story building that will be located between the art/woodshop building and the middle school wing. A two-story building would save space on the already tight campus and leave room for future expansion as needed. Preliminary plans show two middle school science rooms on the main floor along with two other classrooms. The upper floor would house the high school science rooms, labs and additional classroom space. The Vo-Ag shop would be relocated to behind the woodshop. This move will help reduce any noise problems with the shop being next to other classrooms. The open courtyard would remain between the new building and the high school wing. Students would be able to walk indoors between all of the high school and middle school classrooms.

In addition to the major project, three additional secondary builds are included in the scope of the BEST Grant/Bond construction funding. The first project is a complete renovation of the middle school and high school locker rooms. This phase includes installing brand new, separate middle school and high school locker rooms for boys and girls as well as a direct corridor between the auxiliary gym and the main gym.

Project two consists of two new middle school classrooms to be added at the end of the middle school wing with a corridor joining the middle school wing to the music room. This connection will preclude the necessity for students to walk outdoors to music classes. Special care will be taken to insulate the new middle school classrooms against the sounds of the band room.

Project three will include the addition of two elementary classrooms at the end of the K-2 wing and a corridor to join the elementary school to the commons area (lunch room and libraries). This will allow elementary students to walk indoors to lunch and the library. This segment is proving to be especially challenging since the new connection will enclose the courtyard between the main gym and the K-2 wing. The architects and other committee members are examining several options to find an aesthetic and utilitarian solution within budget constraints that will allow large equipment and delivery trucks to enter the courtyard after construction is complete to remove snow, allow deliveries for the kitchen and to empty the grease trap.

Major challenges face the design team as the campus is landlocked on all sides, and they are working to connect diverse buildings with varied ages, roof lines and construction. The campus also sits on a former riverbed. The water table is very high and drainage is extremely difficult. Money was written into the grant to address drainage and exterior safety issues created by falling snow, ice and standing water. Each section of the project is touched by drainage issues.

Design work will continue for the next few months and input will be gladly received by the committee. Work to select a general contractor/construction manager will commence in the next few weeks. Now is the time for community members to share their opinions. Watch for construction updates in the Dolores Star and on the district website