The Aspen School District has spent or committed about $95.5 million of $114 million in bond funds nearly three years after the passage of the bond measure that was to be dedicated to new district staff housing and upgrades to campus facilities.
Deferred maintenance issues at the elementary, middle, and high schools as well as housing renovations — which made up the lion’s share of committed funds — were largely tackled over the summer, Project Leader Damion Spahr told the Aspen school board in a bond update on Wednesday night.
“We tried to hit all the major buckets we told voters we would hit,” he said during the meeting. “We made a lot of progress in a lot of the key pieces to prepare the district for the next 20 years.”
There is still work to do, he said, and Aspen Middle School will likely close in summer 2024 to address more deferred maintenance issues there. The district has committed nearly $30 million to deferred maintenance projects across all three campuses and plans to dedicate about $4 million more to future upgrades, according to budget documents he presented at the Monday board meeting.
Some of the work to be done next summer will be to address ADA compliance, Spahr said, particularly in increasing access to playing fields and parking across campuses.
About $2.1 million was spent to upgrade the District Theater, which some voters have wanted to see upgraded since as early as 2005, but there is still more work to be done to make the theater more ADA compliant, he said. Project leaders are also considering upgrading the theater further to address safety concerns.
The district has also committed nearly $48 million of bond funds to housing development and upgrades – money that has led to increases in housing inventory for the district and improvements on existing housing. The district currently owns 102 units and is planning to complete housing improvements in 2024, according to Spahr’s presentation to the board.
About $14 million in unallocated bond proceeds remain that the district can use as needed, he said. With a majority of the bond funding spent, he is hopeful the work will benefit the Aspen School District for years to come.
“We’re optimistic that the investments in infrastructure will hold for another 20 years, so that schooling can continue uninterrupted,” he said during the board meeting. “Looking around campus, we’ve had nothing but positive feedback.”
Lucy Peterson | The Aspen Times | October 19, 2023