How Much Will This Cost?

Cost breakdown

  • Grand Junction High School - $124 million

  • Central High School - $32 million

  • Fruita Monument High School - $21 million

  • Palisade High School - $12 million

    Total- $189 million

    Subtract the $5 million earmarked for the Grand Junction High School roof repair from the 2017 bond

    Subtract the $4.5 million that has been saved on 2017 bond projects by D51 being good stewards of the community’s funds

  • Net Total- $179.5 million

If passed, what will the bond fund?

The bond measure would invest in the following projects at D51 high schools:

  • Central High School - Eliminate 16 non-secure doors, create a single entrance and connect all buildings so the entire campus is under one roof, perform asbestos abatement, add fire sprinklers, improve accessibility and traffic flow, and enlarge the cafeteria.

  • Fruita Monument High School - Have one entrance, connect all buildings on campus under one roof, and eliminate 27 non-secure doors; improve accessibility and circulation; and add 16 classrooms to bring ninth-grade back to Fruita Monument High School so that Fruita Middle School and Fruita 8/9 can each become full middle schools.

  • Grand Junction High School - Rebuild GJHS on the north side of the current campus and take down the current building, which has multiple non-secure doors, a sinking foundation, and multiple entrances and buildings.

  • Palisade High School - Add fire sprinklers, eliminate non-secure doors, connect all buildings under one roof, create collaborative spaces, add multi-disciplinary classrooms, and improve accessibility.

Why is it a problem to have multiple buildings on high school campuses?

All four high schools were built before school shootings became an unfortunately frequent part of American life. Back then, it wasn’t a security concern to have multiple buildings and multiple unlocked doors on a school campus. Now, we know that it is safer to have all classes under one roof and a single main entrance where people have to check in at the front office before entering the building.

Replacing GJHS

Why replace instead of renovate GJHS?

All four high schools will be safest with fewer unlocked doors, all classrooms under one roof, and improved flow and accessibility. However, only GJHS has a sinking foundation that will continue to be a problem. The other three high schools have solid foundations and will get at least a 20-year extension on their useful life from a renovation.

There are schools that were built before then that are still standing - why don’t you maintain your schools better?

We're proud to say 20 of our 41 school buildings are at least 50 years old, with our oldest buildings - Grand River Academy and Fruita Middle School - built way back in 1925 and 1936, respectively, and still going strong. All buildings have been maintained, though with a limited budget during the recession, and that maintenance will keep our other high schools (built in 1960, 1969, and 1992) ship-shape with safety renovations rather than replacement. The board has asked to replace GJHS, however, because of sinking foundation issues that cannot be reversed or stopped.

Why will it cost an estimated $124 million to replace Grand Junction High School?

Local contractors estimate a new high school, if built in 2019, would cost $360 per square foot. Inflation tacks on 6-10% for every year after 2019, so the price would be closer to $381.60 per square foot if a bond passes and construction could begin in 2020. At approximately 260,000-square-feet, the new GJHS building would cost an estimated $99.2 million, plus $25 million for soft costs, if construction starts in 2020. 

How does the construction cost for GJHS compare to the new OMMS?

The new Orchard Mesa Middle School, which broke ground in August 2018, cost $340 per square foot to build (340 x 100,000-square-feet = $34 million), plus $6 million for soft costs, such as furniture and technology. The total $124 million GJHS project would cost $80,834.42 per student, based on 2018-19 enrollment at GJHS. With just under a third of the student population of GJHS, the new Orchard Mesa Middle School costs $81,967.21 per student at OMMS.

Why does it cost more to build a high school than an elementary or middle school?

High schools are more expensive than elementary and middle schools because they are bigger and include features other grade levels don’t have, such as an auditorium, a gym and an auxiliary gym, multiple sports fields, science labs, media and technology equipment, and multiple classrooms for all four grades.

If a bond does not pass, what will you do to fix Grand Junction High School?

Right now, there are more than $5 million in the 2017 bond measure for Grand Junction High School repairs. While those repairs – including roofing projects, bathroom remodeling, parking lot repairs and tile and carpet replacement – won’t fix everything about GJHS, it will help put a Band-Aid on the school’s problems until more funding can be secured.

Is it true that GJHS only has 0-5 years left of useful life?

When construction of GJHS began 64 years ago, it was estimated that the building would last for 75 years. However, the people who made that estimate did not anticipate that the school’s foundation would begin sinking and cause several structural issues, or that it would become unsafe to have several entrance and exit points on campus. As a result, the new estimate is that the school does indeed have zero to five years left before it needs to be replaced.

If the foundation has issues, why rebuild on the same property?

The foundation at GJHS is sinking, so some have rightly wondered if it makes sense to rebuild on nearby soil. Thankfully, there are soil tests and construction practices that will prevent the same issues from happening in the new building. Rebuilding on the same patch of land will eliminate the cost of purchasing new land elsewhere, and keep GJHS centralized.

If a bond does pass, what will happen to the money in the 2017 bond measure reserved for GJHS repairs?

Most of the repairs at GJHS have been delayed until 2020 just in case a bond measure passes this fall. The money will be spent on repairs at the school only if voters do not approve a building replacement this fall. If voters do approve a new GJHS, the money will go toward other capital improvements in D51 schools.

Can the newer parts of Grand Junction High School be repurposed?

Newer parts of GJHS were built in 1963, 1982, 1983, 1998, and 2005. However, all will need to be demolished once a new building is finished in order to fit sports fields, a track, and parking onto the current property.

If GJHS was good enough for me, why isn’t it good enough for students today?

A lot has changed over the years – not for the better, when it comes to the condition of GJHS’ building. If you haven’t been by your Alma Mater lately, please call the school at 254-6900. We would love to give you a tour!

Could marijuana tax revenue pay for a new GJHS if we had shops here?

Tax dollars from recreational marijuana sales go directly to the city, the county, and the state where the store is located - not the local school district. Instead, school districts apply for a construction grant, called a BEST grant (Building Excellent Schools Today), from the state’s share of marijuana tax revenue. Having a local marijuana retailer has not impact on whether a district gets a BEST grant. These grants are extremely competitive and require matching funds - often through a bond measure. District 51 was lucky enough to receive a BEST grant for Orchard Mesa Middle School, but was denied a BEST grant this year for Grand Junction High School.

More than half of my property tax bill goes to education - why add a bond?

In all, 53.6% of your Mesa County property tax bill goes to District 51 (and zero percent of your sales and use tax). However, it’s not the percentage that factors into the school funding formula, it’s the amount. Colorado school districts rely on funding primarily from a combination of local property taxes and state funds. The state funding formula determines how much money a school district receives each year (per student), and state funds make up for whatever amount local property taxes don’t cover (for most districts, state funding covers more than half of this amount). If property values increase, the state simply back fills less. The only way to really get ahead is with a bond measure or mill levy override, which deliver dollars independently of the state funding formula.

Why do high schools need money - Didn’t they get anything from the 2017 bond?

High school maintenance projects account for less than 28% of all projects and purchases in the 2017 Bond Measure. This work, which includes roofing, heating and cooling work, new carpet and tile, and parking lot overlays, will help extend the life of each building, but it will not fix the major foundation issues at GJHS, provide enough room at FMHS for ninth-graders to attend, or make each building safer by creating a single entrance.

Why put more than $5 million for GJHS repairs in the 2017 bond measure if D51 knew it needed to be replaced?

The 2017 Bond Measure includes funding for roofing, bathroom remodeling, carpet and tile replacement, parking lot work, and a few other projects to help make GJHS a brighter, better place to be just in case funding is not approved for a new building. If a new building is approved, the money will go toward other capital projects in the district. If a new building is not approved, most of the GJHS projects listed above will take place in 2020. 


How will having all parts of campus under one roof make schools safer?

Having multiple buildings means having multiple unlocked doors so students can move from one building to the next. It also means there are multiple ways for a person who shouldn’t be in the school to get inside without having to go past the school office. Having one main entrance and a security vestibule that forces people to check in with the office before entering the rest of the school is the safer layout.

If we want to improve school safety, why not arm teachers or add SROs?

For insurance purposes, D51 schools have no plans to arm teachers or volunteers. Arming people who are not in uniform may also pose a problem for law enforcement responding to a school incident, as they could not easily tell if an armed teacher is the original shooter or someone trying to bring down a shooter.  

Local law enforcement agencies hire and pay for school resource officers, and we are thrilled that many have added more SRO positions in the last year. It is not easy to recruit just the right person with the right skills, temperament, training, and background to become a school resource officer, so it may be difficult to hire an officer for every D51 school, even if funding were available.

Why not add modulars instead of classrooms to give Fruita Monument more room?

It would take several modulars to provide the amount of space needed to bring ninth-graders back to FMHS. More importantly, modulars create more exterior doors for the school, which defeats the purpose of securing all FMHS buildings under one roof.

The bond questions mentions fire sprinklers. Don’t all schools have sprinklers?

Not entirely. While some newer buildings at each high school have sprinklers, the older parts do not. In fact, sprinklers played a part in the decision not to connect newer additions to the main high school buildings in years past because connecting them to the main building would have required a school to put sprinklers throughout the entire building. Fruita Monument High School is getting sprinklers installed in its main building for the first time in the summer of 2019 thanks to funding from the 2017 Bond Measure. 

What is D51 doing to make schools safe now?

The existing D51 budget supplies 9 school security officers and a security director, and local law enforcement agencies fund 12 School Resource Officers. The last bond measure helped the district complete its work installing key-less entry lock systems in all schools, and nearly all D51 elementary and middle schools now have security vestibules. The vestibule holds a person inside the front lobby so they cannot enter the rest of the school unless the office staff let them through a locked door. Vestibules are only truly effective if the public has just one entrance to a building.

A new grant this year will add more security cameras, a security office at PHS, 75 radios, and vestibules at East and West middle schools. Due to our practices, D51 has been recognized by the National Institute of Justice as one of the top 24-safest districts among 2,000 surveyed in the U.S. While it's impossible for any district or law enforcement agency to make sure all students make good choices every day, we are confident that we have the right people on the job, doing their best to defuse, prevent, and resolve situations quickly and professionally.

If D51 knew the high schools needed more work, why wasn’t this work included in the 2017 bond measure?

The school district had millions of dollars-worth of Priority 1 maintenance needs in 2017, and Orchard Mesa Middle School had been in need of replacement since the district first tried to replace it through a 2008 bond measure, which failed. Knowing that voters had not approved a bond measure since 2004 and that including a replacement high school on the ballot would more than double the cost of the 2017 bond, the School Board placed what they could on the ballot with the hope that voters would approve high school projects at a later date.

Looking to the Future

How long will these repairs last?

The additions and security features at Central, Fruita Monument, and Palisade High School would extend each school’s life by at least 20 years. A brand new building for GJHS would last even longer.

Why not build a fifth high school too?

The Long Range Planning Committee has suggested that the district add a fifth high school to handle anticipated population growth on the west end of the Grand Valley in 6-10 years. Having two new high schools in one bond measure is expensive and more likely to fail (as a proposal for two new high schools did in 2008), and replacing GJHS is a more dire need than adding a fifth high school at this time.

What about elementary schools and middle schools that need improvements?

The Long Range Planning Committee – a group of D51 staff and community members – has made a long-term goal of improving elementary and middle schools in the next 20 years. Meanwhile, several middle and elementary school improvements have taken place thanks to the 2017 bond measure and safety grants.

How will D51 be transparent about this bond if it passes?

Immediately after the election, the district will add page to its website ( that will include information about the bond and track where and how each dollar is being spent on a quarterly basis. The district will also continue to send quarterly bond measure updates to parents, staff, and interested community members until the work is completed; post updates and photos on social media; and present monthly updates at public school board meetings.

What is The Economic Impact for Mesa County?

Nearly 90% of the 2017 Bond dollars were spent locally, creating more than 100 jobs in Mesa County. We don’t see this new bond measure to be any different. Our local construction and trade companies thrived with the funds from the 2017 bond and will do so again, with the 2019 bond.

How will this impact small businesses?

Due to the Gallagher Amendment, commercial properties pay a higher tax rate than residential properties in Colorado. Businesses also pay a high price when they have to recruit out-of-town talent and struggle to convince them to move here after they see the dated, inefficient high schools their children would attend.

How much of the bond money will stay local?

More than 90 percent of contractors and subcontractors for 2017 bond measure-funded maintenance and construction work are local, and the district would aim to hire local contractors as much as possible for the 2019 bond measure as well.

Why should I vote for this if my kids have already graduated?

Supporting local schools means supporting the local economy. Good schools keep families here, bring in new employers, and help recruit highly skilled employees, such as doctors, technology workers, and manufacturers.

Why Do We Need This? How Does This Improve Our Kids' Education?

Massive population growth has occurred in Fruita and Palisade, which require additional classroom space. Not only is space an issue, but security as well. We need to keep our kids safe and secure our high schools. All of our High Schools have haphazardly grown with the population of our community. These additions have created an unsafe number of entrances/exits.

If security wasn’t a big enough concern, Grand Junction High School is structurally unsound and is beyond repair. The maintenance staff has done as good of a job that they can with the facility, however it has outlived its ability to function as a safe space for kids to learn.

21st Century jobs require 21st Century education, and our STEM and Agriculture programs require modernized classrooms and infrastructure expansion. For our kids to be able to compete against their peers across the state and country, they need the facilities to learn and grow. These upgrades to the local high schools will provide our kids with the foundation to thrive.

Why Wasn't This Included in the 2017 Bond?

The 2017 Bond focused primarily on providing the bare minimum, most critical repairs for our 40 elementary and middle schools in our School District.

The most critical building replacement was Orchard Mesa Middle School and the School District wanted to prove to the community that they could be good stewards of public funds, which they have shown. All projects in the Bond have either been completed or are currently in-progress.