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New elementary school opens in Ignacio
2/6/2014 By: Carole McWilliams
Ignacio Elementary School students scrambled off buses late Tuesday morning and paraded in relatively orderly lines into their new school on County Road 320.
The main entry is now on the west side of the building with a double set of doors and the office right there for security. This part of the building was previously the intermediate school for grades 4-6, with the entry on the south side. Sixth graders now go to the new middle school on the other side of CR 320.
Kindergarten through fifth grade students trooped through the security doors and entry hallway into the gym – the most intact part of the old intermediate school. It has new clerestory windows and a new floor. In its previous life, the gym also was the lunchroom.
The ribbon cutting ceremony was moved inside because of foul weather outside. The plan had been to have a red ribbon the length of the school outside. Instead, part of it was unfurled in the gym.
Fifth graders sang the National Anthem. Superintendent Rocco Fuschetto, Principal Karl Herr, and fifth grader Carlos Lovato, president of the Student Leadership Team, welcomed students and parents. Southern Ute Tribal leaders also were present.
Fuschetto urged students to thank their parents for supporting the $50 million bond issue that made their new school possible, along with the new middle school across the road and the extreme renovation of the high school that will start this spring.
He also urged the kids to make sure they vote when they grow up, noting that the bond issue passed by only one vote in November 2011.
Students sitting along the length of ribbon got scissors for the ribbon cutting, which was somewhat of a mob scene, not the usual people standing sedately in a line smiling at the cameras.
The plan was for every student to get a piece of ribbon to take home.
Before students left the gym to see their new classrooms for the first time, Herr reminded them to practice the Four Bs – be respectful, be responsible, be safe, and belong. Fifth graders had another one: be role models.
Students were to return to the gym for a presentation on positive behavior expectations. Herr said the focus is on positive behavior, not a bunch of don’ts for unwanted behavior.
K-2 classrooms are in the new east wing of the school. Grades 3-5 are in the former intermediate school.
Students started the day where they’ve been going to school since September – K-3 at the old IES downtown, and grades 4-5 in the old junior high. They were bussed up to the new school for the lunchtime ceremonies.
Another ribbon cutting for the community was held Tuesday evening followed by school tours.
Work on the school building started last year right after classes ended in late May and followed an intensive work schedule under general contractor Okland Construction. The old intermediate school was gutted and reconstructed, looking last summer like it had been bombed; and a new classroom wing and lunch room were added.
The lunchroom has big windows facing east and north for scenic views of the HD Mountains and the Vallecito area mountains. It also has a stage. A “secret garden” will be built in the L between the lunchroom and east classroom wing.
The school has ground-source heating and cooling. Last summer, the ground south of the new classroom addition, the former driveway loop, looked like a scene from the movie Holes. That’s where the geo-field bores were drilled for the building heating and cooling.
That process was disrupted with the discovery last March of human remains in an old burial ground on the east side of the property. A sewer line had to be moved, and one row of geo-field bores had to be drilled elsewhere because of this. But it would have been a much bigger problem if the remains were found in the middle of the geo-field.
One of the district’s architects called it “the poster child for unforeseen conditions.”
At the Nov. 14 school board meeting, Fuschetto advised that the total cost to excavate and re-bury the skeletal remains would be around $300,000. The remains of 21 people are thought to date from the early 1900s. Their ethnicity could not be determined, Fuschetto said.
At the Jan. 16 school board meeting, he said, “By the end of this month, we should have the bodies re-buried. We have a date picked. It won’t be a public thing.”
That has happened, he told the Times Wednesday.
The elementary school project was partly funded by a state BEST grant. All the contracting for that had to be done separately from the rest of the district’s bond-funded construction projects.
The total cost for the school is still being tallied, Fuschetto said. The original estimate was $15 million, with $5.2 million paid by the grant.
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