Windsor Middle School a key component of potential Weld RE-4 School District bond

In a few weeks, the Weld RE-4 School District Board of Education will vote to decide whether to put a $271 million bond proposal measure on the November ballot.

The council is scheduled to vote on it at its Aug. 15 meeting in Windsor. The meeting starts at 19:00 in the administration hall located on the main street of the district administration.

But first, on Monday, the council will meet for a work session to discuss and consider potential bond and mill levy ballot questions, according to the work session agenda. The meeting will start at 19:00. It will also be held in the meeting hall of the administrative building and the meeting will be broadcast live:

The council discussed a possible MLO at a previous work session earlier this month.

The school district has maintained a need for new schools, renovated schools and other facilities amid increased enrollment over the past several years.

The district said it conservatively projects 6,497 students in Weld RE-4 schools this year, excluding Windsor Charter Academy. The district estimates there are just over 8,000 students with WCA, representing a 98.5% increase over the past 12 years.

Eight of the nine schools in the district have exceeded their building capacity. To handle growth for the upcoming school year, the district purchased five modular buildings (25 classrooms) at a cost of $8.9 million. According to Katie Smith, Weld RE-4’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, the modules are in the process of being installed.

If the board votes to put the bond measure on the ballot, it will be the second time in two years the district has sought capital funding for school construction and renovations. A $179 million bond measure failed by less than 500 votes on last year’s ballot.

One component of the bond proposal focuses on Windsor Middle School, a nearly 100-year-old building located on a high-traffic corridor on Main Street. The middle school is designed for 700 students in grades six through eight. During the 2021-22 academic year, 818 people were admitted to the school.

The proposal on the table for the high school recommends building a new 900-student high school on 15th Street in Windsor at an estimated cost of $92.5 million. A new high school at the site was also part of a bond package rejected by voters a year ago.

The middle school project under the current version of the bond includes keeping the existing Windsor Middle School as a middle school until it is re-designated for future district use. New chief operating officer Michael McCullar said earlier this month that the request to keep the current Windsor Middle School came from the board of education and the bond advisory committee.

“If we were to close Windsor Middle School as soon as this school opened, we would already have the opportunity,” McCullar said during a July 19 online community meeting about the proposed bond package. “We’ve already been delayed by the 2020 election cancellation and then the 2021 (bond) failure, our growth continued to accelerate and we didn’t want to open a new building at full capacity.”

The current bond package also allows for building renovations at several schools. According to information posted on the district’s Facebook page on July 28, renovations at the high school will focus mainly on replacing the roof, roofing, boilers and water heaters.

“Both the city and the district want to move Windsor Middle School off Main Street,” said Chris Ruff, a Windsor resident and member of the district’s long-term planning facilities committee and bond advisory committee. “No one is against it. But we are not there yet.”

If the bond goes through, the district’s plan would have Severance Middle and the new middle school have a capacity of 900 students, Smith said. Severance Middle School is slated to get a 300-seat addition and a second gym under its current bond proposal.

The district will then organize a community boundary committee representative to determine the boundaries for the three high schools.

Part of Windsor Middle School, the original part of the building, remains closed and unused. There is asbestos in that part. McCullar said it cost about $1.2 million to demolish that section. He gave the estimate in response to a question about asbestos in the building’s asbestos during an online community town hall meeting on July 19.

McCullar added that asbestos is inspected and evaluated every six months, and the building will be inspected by a third party this summer.

“We have processes in place to control where asbestos is present,” McCullar said. “Specifically at Windsor Middle School, that part of the building has been locked down and students are not allowed in that area.”

Smith said there is no record of the district requesting funding to remove asbestos from the high school 20 years ago, and the work did not happen then.

Earlier this year, a layer of asbestos was found on the roof of the old Greeley West High School as it was being prepared for demolition. The decline in asbestos continued this month. The process must be completed before the rest of the building is demolished.

The school will be replaced by a rebuilt Greeley West in the coming weeks and until the start of the new school year next month.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, asbestos is a mineral fiber found in rock and soil. Asbestos has been used for insulation in various building construction materials and as a fire retardant due to its fiber strength and heat resistance. According to the EPA, asbestos does not pose a health risk if managed properly.

Other than that part, the building is a “working school,” Ruff said.

“We’re going to fix the roof, do HVAC repairs and keep it going,” Ruff said. “We don’t want it to be useless. We cannot close Windsor Middle School as it exists. We really need seats.”


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