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!