Saguache Grieves, Saguache Believes
August of 2018 was an incredibly hard month for the small community of Saguache. In that short timespan, hearts were broken over and over again by the passing of so many loved ones. I have seen the tears flow freely lately, and I struggle to make sense of it all. I do know that living in a small community is a blessing, a place where you are more than just a number, more than just a face in the crowd. In Saguache, people are deeply connected and their lives touch each other in unique ways.
While Saguache grieves, it also believes in compassion and kindness. I have witnessed an amazing outpouring of comfort, support, and love these past few weeks during community vigils, memorials, athletic events, and daily interactions between caring people. I am proud to call Saguache my home.
In Honor of our Lost Captains, Christian “Chooch” Arredondo and Ryker Poor. Photo by Ceedric Harrison
This weekend I watched our high school students come together and dedicate football and volleyball games in honor of friends and former teammates that were taken from this earth much too soon. Their dedication, cooperation, and effort produced some remarkable results. For the first time that I can remember, both teams won with impressive shutouts. The volleyball team won the match against Primero in three straight games (3-0), while the football team beat the Bulldogs by a score of 58-0. The human spirit never ceases to amaze me.
The Mountain Valley/Moffat volleyball team during pregame warmups against the Primero Bulldogs.
I was equally impressed by the community support at our first home games against the Primero Bulldogs. The sizeable crowd was loud and proud as they cheered for the Mountain Valley/Moffat Indians. The games were so exciting that even the construction workers building our new school could be heard cheering from the platform west of the football field. After the games, as I was walking home, the construction crew stopped me and asked if I could get them some Mountain Valley shirts. It appears as though our athletes have some new fans!
Workers cheer for Mountain Valley from the construction platform. Photo by Troy Sergesketter
At a time when our community needed something positive, the “Field of Dreams” was completed just before our first football contest with Primero, allowing us to host home games in Saguache. I am so thankful that our community has chosen to stand up for our kids. Corey and Aubrey Hill, as well as the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, graciously allowed Mountain Valley to utilize the land east of the school as a football field for the 2018 season. Athletic Director Larry Joe Hunt, Facilities Director Anthony Salaz, and FCI Construction Superintendent Troy Sergesketter have put in countless hours prepping the new field. Joel Johnson, Justin Wilson, Michael Roberts, Scott Alexander and the football team also worked hard to help build their very own “Field of Dreams.” Thank you, Saguache!
The Mountain Valley football team during their first practice on the “Field of Dreams.”
It is my hope and prayer that we continue to rally around each other, not just during times of grief and struggle, but always. We are a stronger and more compassionate community because of the past few weeks. As we move forward, I hope everyone continues to focus on building positive relationships, connecting with neighbors, and supporting those in need. Together, we can and will make a difference.
When One Door Closes
You have probably heard the famous quote, “When one door closes another opens.” Scientist, inventor, and innovator Alexander Graham Bell is credited with this quote; however, what he actually said is a little longer and a bit more meaningful. The full quote reads like this: “When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.”
Life is constantly changing as we experience growth and improvement, as well as loss and suffering. During my lifetime, I have had many doors close, and new ones have always opened up. Oftentimes, these changes did not make sense to me and I would spend my time looking at the closed door trying to understand the situation, always ignoring the possibilities of new doors opening up. In retrospect, as I get older (and hopefully wiser), I can clearly see why doors of the past have closed, always leading to open doors full of personal growth, improvement, and lessons learned along the way.
Just recently, a new door opened for us, a door that will forever change our lives. On May 15th, 2018, our daughter Avery Ann Jenine was born. After months of anxiety, fear, anticipation, and excitement, Amy and I have a new baby girl and we are blessed beyond belief. I had worried that the door to my life as I knew it was closing; however, the moment Avery was born, it was love at first sight and that little girl stole my heart. It seems as though I spent a lot of time worrying about the closing door without even realizing how amazing it would be to step through the open door.
Photo by Stephanie Buechler
During my five years at Mountain Valley School, I have seen many doors close and open. After the door closed for me as a teacher at Sargent School, I became a 6th-grade teacher to a class full of awesome kids at Mountain Valley. That door closed and a new door opened as PreK-12 principal of Mountain Valley School, where I had an entire school full of amazing students! Shortly thereafter, the principal door closed and the superintendent door opened. I miss the daily interactions with kids that I used to have as a teacher, but I am honored to work towards improving Mountain Valley School District for our students, families, and community.
We are headed toward the future of Mountain Valley School, and doors are opening and closing at a rapid rate. Abatement and demolition projects will begin in early June, starting with the cafeteria, woodshop, and bus barn. The Groundbreaking and Blessing Ceremony will take place on Wednesday, May 23rd at 2:00 pm. Mr. Hanley Frost from the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Culture and Education Department will be on campus to share Ute history of Saguache and bless our new school. FCI Constructors, Treanor HL Architects & Engineers, and NV5 will be on site as well. Everyone is invited to join us as the new Mountain Valley School construction doors open and we begin building the future!
As the school year ends and we begin summer break, change will be inevitable. Remember Alexander Graham Bell’s advice and take some time to reflect and enjoy the past while looking optimistically towards the future.
Graduation, Groundbreaking, and More
May is the busiest month of the year for educators, and this month is no exception. May 7-11th is Teacher Appreciation Week. Please take some time to thank a teacher for making a difference in the lives of children. We have a great staff at Mountain Valley School, and I want to give all of our teachers a big shout out and THANK YOU! I would like to personally congratulate the following staff members for their recent awards: Mountain Valley School Teacher of the Year: Andrew Virdin, Mountain Valley Employee of the Year: Patty Williams, I Love Kids Award: Peggy Williams, Above and Beyond Award: Renee Hazard, Continuous Creativity Award: Mimi Dolan, and Awesome Attitude Award: Eileen Wilfong. Congratulations and thank you for all of your hard work!
The Mighty Minds Spring Concert and Art Show will be taking place on Thursday, May 10th at 6:00 pm in the Mountain Valley School gym. Mrs. Wilfong, Mrs. Hansen, and all of their classes have been working hard preparing for this event. Please join us for a fun-filled evening of music and art for the whole family.
New School Update and Board of Education meetings will take place at MVS on Tuesday, May 15th at 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm, respectively. Bring your questions and get the latest updates on the progress of the new Mountain Valley School.
The Class of 2018 graduation will be held on Saturday, May 19th at 10:00 am. Come on out to Mountain Valley School and help us welcome the Honor Class of 1968 and congratulate the 2018 graduates. Once again, the “future graduates” from preschool to 11th grade will kick off the graduation ceremony.
I am excited and proud to announce that the Blessing and Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Mountain Valley School will take place on Wednesday, May 23rd at 2:00 pm. The time is finally here and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe will be blessing our new school. Mr. Hanley Frost, Southern Ute Cultural Education Coordinator, will conduct the blessing ceremony, which will be followed by the Groundbreaking Ceremony. This is sure to be an event to remember, so mark your calendars and join us on May 23rd!
Have a great week and enjoy this beautiful spring weather!
The Future is Here
Great things are happening at Mountain Valley School! As we look towards the future and preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist, it is critical that a variety of choices, experiences, and opportunities are provided. I am proud to announce that Mountain Valley School is working with Trinidad State Junior College to get an aquaponics program started for the 2018-2019 school year. Furthermore, our Colorado Shines quality rated preschool program just received their aquaponic fish tank and garden. It looks like our youngest students will begin delving into aquaponics at a very early age!
The new preschool fish tank and aquaponic garden.
In addition to aquaponics, shop classes will soon be offered at MVS, allowing students to work with their hands while exploring vocational careers. Life skills will continue to be offered at Mountain Valley School, along with art, music, physical education, and various internship opportunities. Our junior and senior students already enjoy visits to trade schools, junior colleges, and universities across the state. Last, but not least, I am excited about our new virtual job shadowing program, which allows students of all ages to explore various career opportunities around the world.
Our Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Night was a huge success thanks to the hard work and dedication of our high school science teacher Yvonne Morfitt and our school health professional Amy Norris. Over fifty community members enjoyed a free dinner and explored STEM while participating in the creation of elephant toothpaste and lip balm! Additionally, the oobleck tank, which was produced with over fifty pounds of corn starch, slime creation, and microscopic mitosis were big hits. A giant THANK YOU goes out to everyone who made Mountain Valley’s STEM Night a huge success!
High school Science Club and physics students preparing Oobleck for the community STEM Night.
Our Prevention Bingo Nights have also been a great success. So far, we have had two of these events and have had excellent attendance. I even had to add two extra tables at the last one! During prevention bingo, students, parents, and families learned all about the benefits of making positive choices when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Of course, it is always fun to yell “BINGO” and claim a great prize. Hopefully, we will have one more prevention bingo event before the end of the year. I would like to take a moment to appreciate Amy Norris, MVS staff, and the community for making Prevention Bingo Night so popular! It takes a village to raise a child, and we have a pretty awesome village! Thank you!
Upcoming events include a New School Community Meeting to discuss the forward progress that has been made towards our new school. Things are really starting to come together as the design phase heads towards the construction phase. Our new school is going to be an amazing addition to our community that will benefit many generations of students! Be sure to attend the community meeting at Mountain Valley School on Tuesday, March 27th at 5:00 pm.
Additionally, Mountain Valley School will be teaming up with Aventa Credit Union to present a Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft and Fraud Seminar. This great opportunity is free to the community and will take place at Mountain Valley School on Wednesday, March 28 at 5:30 pm. Adult education and lifelong learning help build strong communities. Remember, stay informed and protect your identity!
As always, if you have any questions regarding Mountain Valley School, please contact me at email@example.com or 719-655-0268.
Have a great spring break week!
All Change is Hard at First
“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.” This quote by author Robin Sharma defines the struggle of change, a struggle that we all encounter at one time or another in our lives, a struggle that is real. During my life, I have faced unexpected change and adversity many times. In retrospect, I have a better understanding of my life’s challenges. Despite the struggle, they have all made me stronger or my life better in one way or another. I have found that change always has its purpose.
As we move forward with the building of a new school in our community, change can be uncomfortable and downright hard for some people. Things will no longer be as they have been for over fifty years at Mountain Valley School. We will have a state-of-the-art building for our students, staff, families, and community; however, our campus layout will physically change. The new school will be built on the east end of our property and the athletic track and field will be on the west side. This arrangement will allow students to attend school in their current location while the new school is built, eliminating the need for displacement during construction.
Architectural rendering of the new Mountain Valley School as seen from the intersection of Pitkin Avenue and Third Street.
My goal as superintendent of Mountain Valley School District has always been transparency while doing what is best for kids and our community. Over the past year and a half, numerous community meetings have been held in various locations, all with the intent of disseminating and gathering information regarding the new school at Mountain Valley.
A team of around 18 volunteer community members, known as the Design Advisory Group, has worked hard to design a site and school that will meet the needs of our students, families, and community for many years to come. Every decision has been made focusing on what is best for all stakeholders. In the end, we will not only have a new school to adequately prepare our kids for the future, we will have a welcoming community space for people of all ages.
The latest floor plan of the new Mountain Valley School.
Mountain Valley School District, through a competitive and transparent bidding process, has assembled the best possible team of professionals, including architects, engineers, surveyors, and contractors. I am confident that our team will build an amazing school for our students while addressing the needs of the community.
Lately, the discomfort of change has led to a lot of misinformation in our community. If you have questions or concerns regarding Mountain Valley School, please don’t hesitate to visit with me personally. I will provide honest and accurate information. Remember, all change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end. I am sure that the struggle of change will produce beautiful results when our new school opens during the fall of 2019!
Please feel free to download the architectural rendering and floor plan below.
Have a great week!
New Mountain Valley School Update
The Design Advisory Group (DAG) for the new Mountain Valley School met for the fourth and final time on Wednesday, January 24, 2018. The DAG, which was comprised of 16 community members, was responsible for helping to design the layout and site plan for the new school. I am so proud of all of the hard work that the DAG has put into designing a school that will be a perfect fit for our community.
Watch the following video to see detailed slides from the DAG meeting #4.
Additional site plan and school layout information will be available during a community meeting that will be held at Mountain Valley School on Wednesday, February 7th at 5:00 pm.
Latest site plan for the Mountain Valley School campus.Updated first-floor layout.Updated second-floor layout.Architectural rendering of the new school from the parking lot entrance.Architectural rendering of the main entrance to the school.Architectural rendering of the cafeteria and gym exterior.Architectural rendering of the new school as viewed from Pitkin Avenue.
These renderings and plans are the basic building blocks of the new school and will continue to evolve as the various user groups take over refining the design process.
If you have any comments or questions regarding the latest campus layout and new school design, please feel free to contact any DAG member (Amber Johnson, Aubrey Hill, David Hammel, Kathy Hill, Lacy Reed, Lisa Jaminet, Bobbie Baughman, Marilyn Fenton, Mark Hammel, Mona Lovato, Paula Lujan, Peggy Williams, Yvonne Morfitt, Eric Frey, Chuck Tidd, and Travis Garoutte).
Don’t forget to join us for the new school community meeting at Mountain Valley on Wednesday, February 7th at 5:00 pm.
I hope to see you there!
Click on the links below to view and download DAG #4 minutes and slides:
What’s Your Passion?
The word “passion” is thrown around a lot these days. I’m passionate about this. I’m passionate about that. What are your passions? Before you answer, let’s take a closer look at the true meaning of the word passion.
Passion is a Middle English word, from Anglo-French, derived from Late Latin passion and passio, meaning suffering or being acted upon. Passion’s earliest origins begin with the Latin word pati, to suffer. So, let’s take it way back and use a little Latin. What are you passionate about, or for what are you willing to suffer?
I immediately think of my family. I am willing to suffer for my family. Interestingly, the word “family” originates from the Latin word famulus, meaning servant. Now, when I use Latin and say I am passionate about my family, I might be saying that I am willing to suffer as a servant.
Educators are servants. They are an extension of the family. In fact, the legal term in loco parentis (also Latin) is used in education and quite literally means “in place of a parent.” The school environment is filled with servants who are passionate about kids. When I say this, I mean all staff members, from maintenance to foodservice, transportation to administration, and of course, teachers. Passionate people make a difference in the lives of children.
The short video Every Opportunity produced by Atlanta Speech School shows the importance of positive interactions, especially with students. Simple interactions make a difference, and we should take every opportunity to put our best foot forward and build meaningful relationships. Even when we are grumpy and having a bad day, it is important to let our passion show and serve the people who need us most, our children.
When I ask about your passions, I hope they include answers related to personal growth, family, and community. If you are an educator, I hope your answers include children.
With that said, what are you passionate about? Some things are worth suffering for; others are not.
New School Site Plan at Mountain Valley
After a month of brainstorming and planning, the Design Advisory Group (DAG) is getting close to finalizing the site layout and floor plan for the future Mountain Valley PreK-12 School. There is only one more DAG meeting left, and everyone is getting excited to move from the design phase to the construction phase, which is expected to begin in late May or early June of 2018.
Starting from the west side of the property, the site plan below shows a regulation 1600 meter track with a field inside. This area will be large enough to accommodate an 80-yard field for 6-man football or a 100-yard field for 8 and 11-man football. A regulation-sized soccer field will also fit inside of the track. The track and field will be utilized for various community activities and sporting events, as well as allow for future expansion of athletic programs at Mountain Valley School.
The PreK-12 School is located just east of the track with educational and community use areas. The wing to the west will be utilized for both school and community activities and events. The two-story north wing will house most of the academic classroom spaces.
This site layout allows for increased security on campus, protection from prevailing winds, and southern sun exposure on all approach sidewalks, parking lots, and playground areas.
The preschool playground will be placed off of the preschool classroom, and the elementary playground will be southeast of the track. Transportation facilities and additional athletic event parking are shown on the west side of the property.
Adequate parking, secure student drop off areas, and separate bus loading and unloading zones will increase safety on campus during the busy morning, lunch, and afternoon hours. School plazas and memorials will be located around the school. The community garden and geodesic dome greenhouse will remain on the south side of the property.
The first floor of the school is shown with elementary, media center, team center, administration, art, and weight room areas throughout the north wing. The west wing houses the gym, auxiliary gym, locker rooms, concessions, cafeteria, home economics, vocational education, performing arts, and storage spaces. Community engagement and access are important at Mountain Valley School. Consequently, the media center and most spaces in the west wing will be available for various community activities and events.
The second-floor layout has the high school and middle school areas separated by the media center. A science deck will look out over the beautiful views from Saguache. The two gymnasiums, performing arts spaces, and a hidden mechanical area will be at a two-story height as well.
If you have any comments or questions regarding the campus layout and new school design, please feel free to contact any DAG member (Amber Johnson, Aubrey Hill, David Hammel, Kathy Hill, Lacy Reed, Lisa Jaminet, Bobbie Baughman, Marilyn Fenton, Mark Hammel, Mona Lovato, Paula Lujan, Peggy Williams, Yvonne Morfitt, Eric Frey, May Engquist, Chuck Tidd, and Travis Garoutte) or stop by Mountain Valley and visit with administration. For even more information on the DAG process, click on the links below to view the minutes and slides from all three of the previous meetings.
Mountain Valley School Design
The design process for the new PreK-12 school at Mountain Valley is underway! We have assembled a fantastic team and are quickly making progress towards realizing the hopes and dreams for the future of our school and community.
Design Advisory Group member Bobbie Baughman shares her thoughts on school site use and placement.
After a transparent and competitive interview and bidding process, Mountain Valley School District has hired NV5 as owner’s representatives, TreanorHL as the architectural and engineering firm, and FCI Constructors. This team is a great fit for our school and community, and I am excited to be working closely with them during the design and construction of our new school.
Eric Frey discusses site design with the Design Advisory Group.
Additionally, over 15 community members have volunteered to serve on the Design Advisory Group (DAG). The DAG met on December 6th for around three hours and discussed hopes, dreams, goals, visions, opportunities, and challenges around the new school design. It was a great first meeting full of enthusiasm and optimism as possible school placement and designs were discussed and modeled.
The Design Advisory Group (DAG) process will be completed in four or five meetings.
One of the responsibilities of DAG members is to solicit feedback from various stakeholders in the community and relay that information to the design team. If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas before our next community meeting, please contact one of the following DAG members: Amber Johnson, Aubrey Hill, Julia Hammel, Kathy Hill, Lacy Reed, Lisa Jaminet, Bobbie Baughman, Marilyn Fenton, Mark Hammel, Mona Lovato, Paula Lujan, Peggy Williams, Yvonne Morfitt, Eric Frey, May Engquist, Chuck Tidd, or Travis Garoutte. It is important that the new school design includes input from all stakeholders. In the end, we want a school that meets the needs of our students and community.
The Design Advisory Group examines various school models and layouts.
These are exciting times for our students, staff, and community. I encourage everyone to visit with DAG members, attend community meetings, and take an active role as we design and build a new school at Mountain Valley.
Have a great week!
Travis Garoutte, Superintendent
Together, We Can Make a Difference!
Thanks to our supportive community, Mountain Valley School is well on its way towards realizing the district goals of relationships, innovation, and rejuvenation. Relationships with all stakeholders is critical, and district residents are trusting Mountain Valley to create innovative and engaging learning environments, as well as multi-use community and athletic spaces as we design and build a new school that will serve our students, families, and community for many generations to come.
Throughout this process, transparency is key. My hope is that everyone has access to accurate information and ample opportunities to share thoughts and ideas during the design and building phases. Our first new school facility community meeting with owner’s representatives NV5 and architects TreanorHL was held on Wednesday, November 29th at 5:00 pm at Mountain Valley School. Over 40 residents were present and met the NV5 and TreanorHL teams that will be working closely with the Mountain Valley community during this process. Topics covered during this meeting included Transparency Diagram, Design Advisory Group Process, High-Level Timeline, Community Input Process, Design Philosophy – Designing within Context, and Open Dialogue regarding Community Vision, Hopes, Dreams, and Fears.
On the construction side of the project, Mountain Valley received proposals from four construction companies: GE Johnson, GH Phipps, Haselden-Diesslin, and FCI. GE Johnson has completed 124 PreK-12 School projects, including BEST schools in the San Luis Valley for Center, Sangre de Cristo, and South Conejos. GH Phipps has built schools throughout Colorado, as well as projects at Adams State University, San Luis Valley Health, and the Rio Grande Hospital. Haselden-Diesslin has completed over 130 PreK-12 schools, including Moffat School, Salida High School, and Longfellow Elementary School in Salida. Over the past five years, FCI has built over 120 educational facilities, including Ignacio High School, Ignacio Middle School, and Sanford School.
A six-member selection team worked hard to score the proposals from the aforementioned construction companies. This was no easy task, as the proposals ranged from 45 to 68 pages, and each construction company was highly qualified. Proposals were scored on the following criteria: Cover Letter; Firm Qualifications; Project Experience and References; High Performance/Sustainability Expertise; Team Structure, Experience, and Resumes; Cost Estimate; Project Schedule; and Project Approach. After the scoring was completed, the top-ranked construction companies were invited for face-to-face interviews at Mountain Valley School on Monday, December 4th. The interviews were scored and Mountain Valley is currently working to select a construction company to join our team and help build the new PreK-12 school in Saguache, Colorado.
These are exciting times for our school and community! As we begin designing the new school, please attend the community meetings and share your input. Together, we can make a difference at Mountain Valley School.
Travis Garoutte, Superintendent
Designing the Future at MVS
I am so proud of our community and its support of Mountain Valley in passing bond issue 3B for a new PreK-12 school in Saguache, Colorado. It is with great excitement that I look forward to the future of Mountain Valley School District and the positive impact this will have on our students, our community, and our future. As our journey continues, Mountain Valley is dedicated to working with all stakeholders to design and build a new school that will meet the needs of our students, families, and community. Together, we will make a difference in the lives of children. Thank you for supporting Mountain Valley School District and making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality.
After visiting Saguache and Mountain Valley School last month, eleven architectural firms throughout Colorado and New Mexico submitted proposals. The proposals were assessed and scored by a six-member selection team, and the top four firms were invited for a face-to-face interview in Saguache on November 8, 2017. After a day of rigorous interviews, TreanorHL was selected as the architectural firm to design the new PreK-12 school at Mountain Valley.
With over 50 years of experience in educational facility design, it is clear that TreanorHL is passionate about designing state-of-the-art active learning environments for PreK-12 schools. In addition to experience on the front range, TreanorHL has designed schools in the rural mountain towns of Lake City, Buena Vista, Leadville, Gunnison, Crested Butte, Carbondale, Basalt, Glenwood Springs, and Steamboat Springs.
Chad Novak, TreanorHL Principal-in-Charge, stated, “I’m excited about designing a space that is grounded in Saguache’s unique history, culture, and landscape, allowing the community itself to become an extension of the classroom.”
Chad Novak, TreanorHL Principal-in-Charge for the new PreK-12 Mountain Valley School project.
Project Manager Adam Braunstein is “excited about working with folks that really care about what’s happening in the community and have a genuine goal of creating a place that empowers and prepares every student for success.”
Adam Braunstein, TreanorHL Project Manager for the new PreK-12 Mountain Valley School project.
Project Architect Scott Dangel said, “Schools, particularly in smaller, rural areas play a crucial role for the community, often serving as a communal gathering place. I’m excited that the district wants to create a life-long learning center for everyone.”
Scott Dangel, TreanorHL Project Architect for the new PreK-12 Mountain Valley School project.
As we begin working with TreanorHL to design a new school that meets the needs of our community, a Design Advisory Group (DAG) will be formed. The DAG will consist of 10-15 members, including students, parents, community members, MVS staff and administration. The DAG members will attend DAG meetings, solicit feedback from all stakeholders, attend larger community input meetings, and help ensure that the new school is designed and built to meet the needs of our students, staff, and community. There will be a continuous cycle of DAG meetings and larger community input meetings to ensure that the new Mountain Valley School is a perfect fit for our community. If you are interested in the design process and serving on the DAG, please contact me at Mountain Valley School.
I am looking forward to working with TreanorHL and the DAG to design our new school at Mountain Valley!
Travis Garoutte, Superintendent
Mountain Valley Students Deserve Informed Voters
Mountain Valley School District has been awarded a once-in-a-lifetime $27 million Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant to build a safe and secure 21st-century learning facility for our students, our community, and our future. To receive this BEST Grant, voters who reside in our school district must approve a matching $3.7 million bond. Voting ballots have been mailed and the official election deadline is Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Many residents have attended community meetings and received accurate information. However, some misinformation has recently surfaced and I would like to revisit the most frequently asked questions in detail. My hope is that all citizens will have factual information when they vote on ballot question 3B.
Mountain Valley’s main building is over 50 years old and beyond its useful life. The current middle school was built in 1995 and will be repurposed as a transportation and maintenance facility.
WHAT IS THE BEST PROGRAM?
Building Excellent Schools Today legislation was passed in the spring of 2008 for the purpose of assisting school districts with low property values in upgrading facilities to a minimum standard of safety and functionality. Without this BEST funding, low property value school districts, like Mountain Valley School District, would never be able to build safe and modern school facilities for our students, families, and community.
HOW MUCH WILL THE PROPOSED NEW SCHOOL COST?
The total cost of a new PreK-12 school facility presented in the Mountain Valley School BEST Grant proposal was just under $31 million dollars. Last May, Mountain Valley School District was awarded a $27 million BEST Grant. To receive this BEST Grant, it will be necessary for district residents to match about 12% of this cost by approving a $3.7 million bond during the 2017 election. The State of Colorado will be providing 88% of the approved BEST project funding costs.
Architectural drawing of possible new school layout. The final design will be determined by Mountain Valley students, staff, administration, and community.
WHAT WOULD IT COST TO SIMPLY RENOVATE OUR CURRENT FACILITIES AT MOUNTAIN VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT?
A 2009 facilities assessment by the Colorado Department of Education found almost $17 million worth of needed repairs at Mountain Valley School District. Since that time, conditions at the school have only deteriorated while costs have escalated. With a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million, Mountain Valley School can never repair the existing problems without funding assistance. Due to the current condition of our facilities and cost to renovate, remodeling was never a feasible option. The Colorado Department of Education’s Capital Construction Board ranked Mountain Valley’s new school construction project as the highest need in the state of Colorado and awarded a $27 million BEST Grant to build a new state-of-the-art school facility for our community.
NV5 Technical Engineering and Consulting Solutions estimated renovation costs using the formula $250 per square foot x 75,000 square feet = $18.75 million for buildings alone + additions + grounds improvements + temporary learning spaces for the students. NV5 also noted that the $3.7 million matching bond would still be required, and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) would not support renovations with Mountain Valley’s Facilities Cost Index (FCI = cost of needed repairs/value of the property) of 72.21%. Sarah Lara from NV5 stated, “In Mountain Valley’s case a new school makes the most sense, from a financial & safety/security standpoint for students and staff. Mountain Valley School was one of the highest needs schools that submitted an application, so that says a lot about the level of concern from CDE about the current buildings.”
Wold Architects and Engineers was asked for a professional opinion on renovation as well. Job Gutierrez from Wold stated, “Even if Mountain Valley fixed all of the current deficiencies at $16-18 million for system replacements (actual project costs would be higher), they would still be left with an old and antiquated school layout, not a modern 21st Century school with flexible learning spaces and project-based learning space opportunities. The $3.7 million matching bond would still be required.”
WHY DOES THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY SCHOOL COST MORE THAN THE MOFFAT SCHOOL?
Moffat’s new school was completed in August 2015, four years ahead of Mountain Valley’s scheduled completion of August 2019. According to NV5, the owner’s representatives for Moffat during their project, school construction costs have escalated more than 10% per year for rural and mountain communities. That is at least a 40% increase in construction costs. The Moffat School’s final cost was close to $18.3 million for 47,000 square feet of space or $390 per square foot. When current construction cost escalations are factored in, projected costs for Moffat’s school would be much higher in today’s market. Mountain Valley’s $31 million project is 67,000 square feet and works out to $462 per square foot. The Mountain Valley School will have additional student and community spaces, which include a gym and auxiliary gym, weight room, stage, media center, community garden, football field, rubberized track and a fitness trail. The new facility at Mountain Valley will be more than a school for students; it will be a welcoming space for our community and families.
WILL WE KEEP ANY OF THE BUILDINGS WE ALREADY HAVE?
The Mountain Valley School District Facilities Action Plan allows the Middle School building to be repurposed as a Transportation and Maintenance facility.
HOW DISRUPTIVE WILL THE CONSTRUCTION PROCESS BE TO THE EDUCATION PROCESS?
The Mountain Valley School District Facilities Action Plan shows that the new school will be built and opened before vacating the old buildings.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO DO THIS NOW? ARE OUR CURRENT BUILDINGS NO LONGER SAFE?
During the 2017 BEST Grant application process, Mountain Valley School District was the top-ranked school in the state needing new educational facilities. Our buildings currently exhibit numerous safety, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roofing issues, as well as other urgent needs. In addition, there is only a limited amount of BEST funding available for projects like the one Mountain Valley School District has been awarded. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity to provide a much-needed new PreK-12 facility for our students, families, and community. With a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million, our district will never be able to improve our facilities situation and provide both today’s and tomorrow’s students with the safe and modern facilities they deserve. This $27 million BEST Grant funding opportunity may never be offered to Mountain Valley School again. Moffat, Creede, Sanford, South Conejos, Sargent, Alamosa, Monte Vista, Sangre De Cristo and Centennial schools have already built new and modern facilities with BEST funding.
Freedle Auditorium, built in 1933, is in disrepair and well beyond its useful life. This building serves as the kitchen, cafeteria, office and storage spaces at Mountain Valley School.
HOW MUCH WILL THE NEW SCHOOL COST ME AS A TAXPAYER IF I OWN A HOUSE OR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY IN THE DISTRICT?
If your property’s assessed value is $25,000, your tax impact will be about $2.34 per month or $28.02 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $50,000, your tax impact will be about $4.67 per month or $56.04 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $75,000, your tax impact will be about $7.00 per month or $84.06 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $100,000, your tax impact will be about $9.34 per month or $112.08 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $125,000, your tax impact will be about $11.68 per month or $140.10 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $150,000, your tax impact will be about $14.01per month or $168.12 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $175,000, your tax impact will be about $16.35 per month or $196.14 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $200,000, your tax impact will be about $18.68 per month or $224.16 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $225,000, your tax impact will be about $21.02 per month or $252.18 per year.
If your property’s assessed value is $250,000, your tax impact will be about $23.35 per month or $280.20 per year.
HOW MUCH WILL THE NEW SCHOOL COST ME AS A TAXPAYER IF I OWN COMMERCIAL OR AGRICULTURE PROPERTY IN THE DISTRICT?
For business and agricultural owners, the tax impact for every $100,000 of assessed commercial or agricultural property will be about $37.36 per month or $448.32 per year.
WHAT HAPPENS IF VOTERS DO NOT APPROVE THE 2017 BOND DURING THE NOVEMBER 7, 2017 ELECTION?
If the November 2017 bond fails, the $27 million BEST Grant awarded to Mountain Valley School District reverts back to the State of Colorado to be distributed to another school district that is willing to meet its BEST Grant match requirement. The first district in line to receive this money if we fail to pass our 2017 Bond is Mancos School District, which has already been selected by the BEST Grant Board as an alternate project should any project ahead of them fail to provide their match this November. If the bond fails, Mountain Valley School District will not have the necessary funding to address current safety issues and failing systems. BEST Grant funding is dwindling, and there is no guarantee that state funding will ever be available again to help our school.
NEED MORE FACTUAL INFORMATION?
If you still need more information regarding the new school at Mountain Valley, please stop by the school and visit with me. Factual information can also be found at BEST for MVS and The Superintendent’s Corner websites.
Thank you for taking the time to become an informed voter!
Travis Garoutte, Superintendent
Preserving History and Culture at the New Mountain Valley School
Cochetopa Pass Buffalos
It Takes a Village
At Mountain Valley School, our mission for the past four years has been to empower and prepare every student for lifelong academic success and personal growth. As I have grown and matured as an educator, I have realized that education in a small rural community has a bigger meaning, a larger and broader scope. Students need to be empowered and prepared, but what about our staff, families, and community? How can we empower and prepare everyone? We all know that it truly takes a village to raise a child.
Relationships. Our number one goal at Mountain Valley School is building positive and caring relationships, not only with students, but with each other as a staff, with parents and families, and with the greater Saguache community. Quality relationships drive the culture of a school. School culture can be felt the minute you walk through the front doors and can make or break an organization. We are continually striving for a welcoming environment where everyone feels safe, valued, and appreciated.
Innovation. Innovation is all about doing something new and better. At Mountain Valley, we want to avoid embracing the status quo and doing things the way they have always been done. The world of education is changing too fast to cling to the past. Students and staff are encouraged to take risks and step outside of their comfort zones while personalizing their learning. My hope is that Mountain Valley will become a learning center for our community. Can you imagine an environment where a school is as much about adult learning as it is about student learning, a gathering place for a community of lifelong learners?
Rejuvenation. After years of deferred maintenance, Mountain Valley School is focusing on rejuvenating outdated systems and facilities. Updated mesh WIFI at our school now allows students and staff the connectivity required to be successful in the 21st century. New Chromebooks have also been purchased for students and faculty. The resulting engagement, creativity, and critical thinking can be seen on a daily basis as personalized learning takes place in classes and during capstone projects. Our aging transportation fleet has been updated with a recently purchased route bus and two new activity vehicles. When our students are on the road, it is comforting to know that they are traveling in safe and reliable vehicles. Finally, Mountain Valley School has been awarded a $27 million Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant to build a new PreK-12 school for our students, staff, and community. If school district voters approve the required $3.7 million matching bond this November, we will have a safe, secure, and state-of-the-art learning facility at Mountain Valley.
Mountain Valley School is dedicated to achieving our relationship, innovation, and rejuvenation goals. We have made great progress in a short amount of time, and we are well on our way to empowering and preparing our community of lifelong learners!
Please share your thoughts on how Mountain Valley School can empower and prepare all stakeholders as we travel together on the path of continuous personal growth and improvement.
Travis Garoutte, Superintendent
Mountain Valley School BEST Grant Frequently Asked Questions
Relationships, Innovation and Rejuvenation
It is going to be another great year at Mountain Valley School, and I am excited to see students back in the building. I have truly missed all of the kids and the laughter and joy they bring. As we begin the 2017-2018 school year, MVS will be focusing on three main goals: relationships, innovation, and rejuvenation.
I believe that relationships drive the culture of a school. Not just relationships with students, but relationships with parents, families and the community. It is also critical to foster quality relationships between staff members as we work towards continuous improvement. This year, we will continue to build positive relationships with each and every student, family and the greater community. My hope is that everyone can feel the welcoming atmosphere at Mountain Valley the minute you walk through our doors.
Innovation is also a priority this year. Not just doing something new, but doing something new and better. Teachers and students will be encouraged to take educational risks, experiment, fail, learn and repeat the process. True learning takes place just outside of one’s comfort zone. Individualized student capstone projects, technology integration, and staff-driven professional learning are some areas of innovation this year at Mountain Valley. Experts say that human knowledge is doubling every 13 months, and we can no longer afford to do what we have always done. Educational reformist John Dewey said it best when he stated, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”
Transportation, technology, and facilities are all focuses of rejuvenation this year. Our aging transportation fleet was in desperate need of attention, with most vehicles logging close to 200,000 or more miles. In order to provide safe transportation for our students and staff, Mountain Valley School recently purchased a route bus as well as two activity vehicles. Technology improvements at MVS include quality mesh WIFI throughout the entire school, which has completely solved our past connectivity problems. Additionally, teachers and students now have up-to-date Chromebooks and will be integrating technology throughout the curriculum.
As you have probably heard, Mountain Valley School District has received a twenty-seven million dollar BEST Grant to build a new school and athletic facilities for our students and community. This grant requires a twelve percent match, which will come from a $3.7 million bond to be voted on in November 2017.
Drawing of possible new school, which includes the following community spaces: Community Garden, Fitness Trail, Rubberized Walking Track, Stage, Media Center, Main and Auxillary Gyms, and Meeting Spaces.
I am excited about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve our school while providing a modern and updated educational facility for our community. Our school is the heart of the community, with numerous events taking place at MVS throughout the year.
In a 2009 site assessment, it was estimated that Mountain Valley School had almost $17 million in needs with a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million. Since that time, our needs have only increased. We currently have countless plumbing, electrical, roofing, HVAC, and security issues, with several components of our facilities well beyond their useful life. Without help from the BEST Grant, we will never be able to improve our situation or sustain our school district facilities in the future.
We will be having BEST Grant and 2017 bond election community informational meetings regularly to help inform and educate school district citizens regarding facilities issues and concerns, the $27 million BEST Grant that Mountain Valley School has been awarded, and the $3.7 million matching bond that is required to build a new school. During these meetings, we will celebrate our success in obtaining the BEST Grant, review the proposed plan for the new school, discuss the 2017 bond election, answer questions, and seek community input.
EVERYONE is invited! We welcome and need everyone’s input!
I hope to see you at our BEST Grant and 2017 bond election community meetings!
Travis Garoutte, Superintendent