By Sheridan Block
Improvements to the Ouray School K-12 building may come as soon as next summer if the school board can secure enough funding for the much needed upgrades, through a bond measure that will go to voters in November.
The existing building, which was built in 1937, was found to be in desperate need of updates when the state conducted an assessment of the facility in 2010. The state found that the school would need at least $10 million in adequate repairs. This summer the Ouray School Board hired Colorado Springs-based firm RTA Architects to conduct a follow up assessment as well as to make recommendations and to provide cost estimates to extend the longevity of the building.
On Monday night, RTA representatives Brian Calhoun and Michael Malloy reported their findings and suggestions to the board, staff and public.
The school building, as a whole, is fundamentally sound in terms of structure and the building has “good bones,” explained Calhoun. While the building is suited to meet the needs of students and the community, there are still some areas of concern that should be addressed sooner rather than later. These issues deal largely with infrastructure and finishes, said Calhoun.
Following their assessment, RTA compiled a list of improvements that should be done and categorized each as a “Life Safety/Code Compliance” item or a “Building Life Extension” item. The firm also included cumulative and soft costs for each item.
Recommendations from the firm included the following: completely replacing the roof, including a main entry security vestibule; adding fire sprinklers throughout; equipping the science room with proper safety devices; upgrading the fire alarm system; improving drainage and grading; repairing failing retaining walls; tuckpointing and repairing brick masonry; providing exhaust systems; improving the crosswalk to the gym; improving site lighting; and, replacing existing windows with more energy efficient designs.
The most critical of these recommendations is replacing the existing roof. The building features a flat roof design, which easily accumulates snow over the winter. Over the years, the roof has worn down due to snow accumulation and has allowed leaking throughout the building.
According to board chair Jerry Hellman, unaddressed leaks in the roof would create the perfect environment for mold issues, which in a worst case scenario would lead to the eventual shutdown of the school building.
“If we just keep patching stuff, at some point the building will...