DPS surprised the Stapleton community almost a year ago with the announcement that the high school construction bid came in $14 million over budget and they would be unable to build the “commons” building planned for Northfield High School. Among the facilities planned for this building were a cafetorium with a stage area for student performances, a kitchen, vocal and instrumental music rooms, and art rooms. DPS determined all those functions would be to be moved to spaces in the gym or classroom building until voter approval of a 2016 bond would enable them to finish the campus.
But this fall DPS announced they would release about $30 million of bond reserve funds. The Bond Oversight Committee (BOC), in a long and thorough process throughout the year, has been working to fund the commitments of the 2012 bond as well as other projects of pressing needs.
Many in the Stapleton community have felt that projects listed as part of the 2012 bond and approved by the voters should be completed before new projects are added to the list. DPS’ position has been that their obligation is for the dollar amount budgeted, there won’t be a capacity issue until at least 2017, and there are more pressing needs elsewhere in the district at this time.
The decision making process for the bond reserve funds is nearing an end. On January 6 the BOC will meet to make their final list of recommended projects. Stapleton’s school board representative, Landri Taylor, has continued to speak out to the BOC, recommending that the commons be built now. The meeting is open to the public and comments can be submitted online prior to that meeting at oversight@DPSk12.org.
On January 12, the BOC will present their recommendations to the board, and on January 15 the board will vote on the final use of those funds. The public can register to speak at board meetings or submit comments prior to the meeting at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public documents released from a December 12 meeting show the option of a “slimmed down” commons building is now being considered by the BOC. DPS is currently considering building the kitchen, cafeteria and stage portion of that building at an estimated cost of $7.1 million.
According to Beverly Haddon, Executive Director of the Stapleton Foundation and member of the BOC, some committee members are assessing the essential programmatic elements of the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum and taking that into consideration as they determine what is highest priority to be built now. Haddon pointed out that given the importance of the arts in the IB program, construction of the vocal and instrumental music rooms, along with the kitchen, cafeteria and stage, would strengthen those vital parts of the curriculum. The section of the gym building that had been designated as a temporary cafeteria could then be used for other purposes (perhaps art rooms). A further advantage to this approach is that it uses plans that have already been drawn, and future additions for a drama staging room and technology classrooms could also follow the original plans.
The Front Porch will follow the upcoming events and post the BOC’s recommendations and the board’s vote on our website and Facebook page.