Behind the Bonds: Improvements leaving a lasting impact

NOTE: This is the first of a series of posts on upcoming bond measures on the Nov. 2 ballot. You will be able to read the rest of the series here.

While school bond projects aren’t always the most fascinating thing to vote on, they are one of the most important things a community decides on during elections.

Bond measures reaffirm the local community’s choice to invest in capital repairs and improvements to schools, benefitting students’ collective futures. What we decide today helps the next generation of Coloradans.

With the explosive growth in Colorado, bond projects are a necessity to keep up with essential repairs, improvement projects and new construction. Pair that with the pandemic and remote learning bringing a higher need for connectivity and technological updates in schools and you’ll have quite a task list.

Each bond project is a reflection of its schools and every district must decide what makes the most sense for its students, staff and community. That’s why working with a team who is 100% dedicated to education and has deep expertise with public school bond campaigns in Colorado is so important.

Several bond measures will be on the ballot Nov. 2 in Northern Colorado, the Springs and throughout the Mountain Communities.

Catching up and Maintaining the Maintenance

Not a lot of Colorado school districts have passed bonds in recent years, however we are seeing several districts aiming to take advantage of lower interest rates and the return to in-person learning to provide much-needed renovations to buildings. Even if you aren’t seeing new school buildings going up, what’s happening inside is equally as important.  

Take flooring, for example. Designing and installing new flooring is an opportunity to incorporate wayfinding and creativity. When done correctly, wayfinding helps with the management and flow of students, particularly in cases where social distancing may still be needed. Flooring design utilizes shapes, directional patterns and color to promote movement throughout schools, while also improving user experiences and providing learning opportunities for students.

Bonds also fund maintenance projects, and while many may not be glamorous, they improve overall health. For example, removal of airborne chemicals lying dormant in old carpet, walls and tiles. Many understand the pain of removing asbestos, but volatile organic compounds (VOCs) also lurk in older rooms and while they aren’t specifically dangerous, it’s good to remove them from the classroom. In terms of health, it’s addition by subtraction.

Crank up the HVAC installation and repairs

We’d venture to say a number of Colorado natives didn’t worry about air conditioning growing up, and to hear us say HVAC units should be a top priority may seem a bit odd.

COVID proved top-notch ventilation systems are a must. It’s more than just keeping everyone cool in rising temperatures – it is providing consistent airflow and air quality for students. Today’s HVAC systems are measuring and filtering CO2 levels and other airborne particles, increasing student health and leading to better learning.

While this isn’t just a problem in Colorado (The General Accountability Office found 41% of public school districts need to update or replace HVAC systems) it is something Colorado schools need to tackle as we experience weather shifts and changing federal and state air quality standards.

Getting technical on technology and design

Education is aimed at preparing students for the future and laying a foundation for the workforce, and therefore it is critical to create and maintain a learning environment where students can develop skills and utilize the technology they will become accustomed to on a daily basis.

Technology upgrades provide pathways for current additions and future upgrades, and this looks different for each school and district. For some, it’s adding charging stations and more smart-enabled learning spaces, as well as devices for students. For other schools, an overhaul of the communication pipeline might be needed: wi-fi and/or fiber optics, cyber security updates, the addition of multimedia technology in new innovation labs and the like. Bond measures cover all of these crucial enhancements.

Facilities designed 30-60 years ago simply don’t have the same maintenance items matching up with today’s curriculum. Teaching and learning continue to evolve, and the psychology of learning has also changed. It is important the physical learning space supports that and remains flexible for the future.

Voters can find more information on specific bond proposals for Brighton 27 J, Weld County School District R4, Manitou Springs School District 14 and Colorado Springs School District No. 11 in the highlighted links.

Once bonds are passed, the building begins. To maximize bond-issued funds, you need a partner who specializes in building learning spaces and knows the local community. Contact Hollis + Miller to learn more about the impacts these bond projects can make or to speak to our team about how we can help with bond support graphics and long-range planning.

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