Aspen Middle School eyes makeover |

Aspen Middle School eyes makeover

Eben Harrell

The Aspen School District is investigating the cost of refurbishing its aging middle school in preparation for a possible new tax proposal.The district has put out a “bid for proposals” to construction companies to find out how much money it would take to give the nearly 30-year-old school a makeover.”It needs refurbishment,” Superintendent Diana Sirko said. “It was built in the 1970s as one of the ‘concept buildings’ of that era. But it turned out not to be the best. Also, the building’s reached an age when it really needs an upgrade.”Once the district discovers how much a refurbishment will cost, it will convene special meetings of its asset committee and financial advisory board to discuss how it will pay for the project. The middle school has about 450 students.Sirko said she could not guess the price tag for the refurbishment, but she said the district’s capital fund likely will not cover the project. The school’s special revenue fund, which includes money from the sale of the Red and Yellow Brick schoolhouses 12 years ago, would also likely fall short.The probable option, Sirko said, is to ask local voters for a new tax. But that’s something that’s a long way off, she stressed.”We don’t want to send the impression to the community that we have already determined that we are going for a bond,” Sirko said. “We are just in the early stages of asking do we need to upgrade the facility.”In 2000, Aspen voters passed a $40 million bond to pay for a 106,000-square-foot expansion and refurbishment of Aspen High School.The district is also finding out how much it would cost to expand the middle school building. If the district makes changes, those changes should be flexible to cope with possible growth in Aspen’s population, Sirko said.”It would be foolish not to address that we have Burlingame [an affordable housing project] coming in and we may need some additional space,” she said. “But the purpose of this is not to increase capacity but to increase quality of facility.”Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is


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