In the past three years, the floor in three sections of Iron Horse Elementary School in Parker has shifted. Both times, about an inch of soil at the bottom edge of the interior walls was exposed. …
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In the past three years, the floor in three sections of Iron Horse Elementary School in Parker has shifted. Both times, about an inch of soil at the bottom edge of the interior walls was exposed.
“We had spiders coming into the classrooms,” said Kirsten Bloomfield, the school's principal. “It's distracting for kids and teachers.”
Built in 1998, Iron Horse needs $1.06 million in building repairs. The roof leaks into the main hallway — a construction cost upward of $750,000, according to Douglas County School District's Master Capital Plan. That doesn't include the cost of professional services, contracting or potential inflation. Insulation and the water chilling system need to be replaced — a construction cost of $80,000. The key system is due for an upgrade — a construction cost of $163,800.
Bloomfield and two other principals at neighborhood schools in Parker tell a similar story: Capital needs have diminished their school's curb appeal and affected the learning environment.
Three of the district's high schools, three middle schools and 13 elementary schools are in Parker. Because of the population boom in Parker and the surrounding area, the ages of schools vary. Ponderosa High School opened in 1982. Legend High School opened in 2008.
Inside Ponderosa, you'll find shiny white floors, exposed brick, clean windows and painted lockers. But the aging, inner workings of the building disrupt day-to-day life, Principal Tim Ottmann said. The school needs $2.3 million in repairs.
About 30 air handlers, which control the air circulation in the building, need to be replaced. The carpet is over 25 years old, as is the plumbing. Once a week, a toilet clogs and overflows, according to Ottmann.
In one of the boiler rooms, the exterior of the pipes are ripped and rusted. The clunky machinery is 10 years past its lifespan and requires maintenance on a regular basis.
Basic needs of students are unmet, Ottmann said.
“We have students who can't learn because it's too hot or cold,” he said. “It's mainly a disruption in the regular school day due to environmental things that should be normal.”
Built in 1972, Pine Lane Elementary School's age shows.
Orange rust covers a large portion of the metal roof. Leaks have caused distinct cracks in the ceiling of the gym. Golf ball-sized holes from a recent woodpecker infestation are scattered throughout the exterior of the building.
The $1.8 million worth of repairs makes it hard for the school to compete with newer schools in the area, Principal Chris Stairs said. In the last couple of years, the school's enrollment has dropped from about 1,000 students to 691, he said.
“Sometimes, parents don't even make it in the building,” Stairs said. “That's always a cultural hit to the building.”
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