Education briefs

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By Deborah Swearingen

Initial bond issuance expected to generate $375 million

After ballot initiative 5B passed in the November election, Jeffco Public Schools has issued general obligation bonds that will generate approximately $375 million for district-wide improvements.

“This is a great day for Jeffco schools,” said Steve Bell, Jeffco’s chief operating officer, in a Dec. 13 board meeting.

The successful election authorized the issuance of up to $567 million of general obligation bonds. However, the district sells the bonds in phases so that the money can be used for planned construction schedules. The remaining 2018 authorization is expected to be issued in two to three years as needed for capital projects.

Funds from the bond were earmarked for school improvements, including replacing three elementary schools, including Marshdale Elementary in Evergreen; building two new schools in central Lakewood and the northwest suburbs; and constructing classroom additions at 23 other schools, including Parmalee, Wilmot and Powderhorn elementary schools, Bell Middle and Evergreen Middle, and both Columbine High and Conifer High.

Baird, a financial services company, is serving as the senior managing underwriter. According to Kathleen Askelson, chief financial officer with Jeffco, the district selected the sale date to take advantage of current low interest rates and favorable market conditions.

Security upgrades approved

The Jeffco Public Schools board unanimously approved a contract agreement to license, purchase and install video surveillance equipment at schools across the district.

The contract, which isn’t to exceed $1 million, is with Hospital Shared Services. The Denver-based company specializes in security for health care systems and other high-stakes security environments.

Although every school within in the district has at least one camera for video surveillance, the additional money will cover upgrades to video surveillance software, license purchases for sites, video surveillance camera purchases, installation of new cameras at sites and repair of existing broken, damaged or non-functioning cameras, according to information from Jeffco. It also will allow schools with one to camera to receive more coverage.

The digital cameras, which were installed in 2014, have a three- to five-year life span.

Funding for this program comes from the district’s general fund, capital transfer and the 2018 bond proceeds.

Dakota Ridge HS receives donation

Dakota Ridge High School received a $50,000 donation to reconstruct and upgrade the batting cages at the school’s baseball field. The donation was approved during a Dec. 13 meeting by the Jeffco Public Schools board.

The project is scheduled to be completed in two phases. Contractors will first grade the land, repair an existing retaining wall and pour concrete foundation and floor and later construct a steel building. The money will be paid directly to the contractors and suppliers from donor Brian Weibler, so no funding will be deposited or paid through the school district.

Previously, the players and families paid to rent facilities to use during the winter months, and the old batting cage facility had some damage due to snow and wind.

Brian Korb with Jeffco Public Schools is slated to oversee and complete the process, with the project completion date to be set at the start of 2019.