by Kirk Banghart

Since September the Facilities Master Planning Committee, made up of parents, community members (Moffat and Crestone) and staff, has spent many hours reviewing the information from engineers and architects in the facilities audit of the Moffat School.  The committee will provide feedback to the Moffat Board of Education (BOE) about the appropriate next steps for the Moffat PK-12 School.

Due to the poor condition of the school, in January, the committee submitted a recommendation to the BOE to apply for a grant from the Colorado Department of Education to help offset the cost of replacement for the Moffat campus.  The committee used information gathered from the building facilities audit and community meetings to help make their recommendation to the BOE.

The district’s contract master planning firm, Wold and A&P, completed a facilities audit last fall 2012.  A facilities audit is a comprehensive review of a building’s systems. Using a comprehensive data base of commercial and school construction costs over the last 3 years, it was determined that the school is in need of 9 million dollars worth of repairs and replacements.

What was discovered

Foundation:  The 1921 building was found to have critical foundation concerns. The engineers discovered that due to the soil acidity and the type of concrete used in the original construction,  the foundation is under a sulfate attack. The crystals that are created by ground water have, over many years, formed inside the foundation and have disintegrated the foundational walls by 25%. They are still structurally sound up to 33% but, there is no way of knowing how long it will take to erode the additional 8%.

Heating Systems: The Moffat School site has 14 different heating systems. Each of these are at the end of their life cycle or are way past their expected life. Due to the phased construction of the building it was also discovered that the systems are inefficient and ineffective in some areas of the building. Current code requires that schools use 1/3 fresh air when heating a building in order to keep a high concentration of fresh air and to avoid recirculating germs. The current heating system does not meet this requirement.

Plumbing: Though the building was remodeled in 1993-1997, most of the plumbing was carried over from the 1950s and 1980s systems. These systems have been affected by the same sulfate attack as the foundation mentioned earlier. Many of the internal pipes have been found to have eroded or are breaking due to exceeding their life cycle.  During the 2011-2012 school year, the school lost four days of instruction due to old pipes breaking.

Security: With the tragedy in New Town, CT, schools across the country have reviewed their safety procedures, Moffat is no different. In the review of the facility, many deficiencies were discovered that were created due to design flaws of the building. An example of this is the ability to control the entrances and exits of the building. They are compromised due to the fact the building was designed in 4 different phases.

At the January special Board of Education meeting, Wold and district administration were instructed to submit a grant application for the March 2013 cycle of Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program. The district has submitted the grant to CDE and will present the application to the BEST board  in May 28-30 of 2013. Funding determination will then be released in June-July of 2013. A key part of the grant is that the district will be asked to match a portion of the grant with local funds. If the district is awarded the grant, the BOE will then ask the members of the community to fund a matching portion of the total cost through a mil levy.

With the district receiving the “Accredited with Distinction” award for being in the top 10% of districts in the state and the Moffat Middle School receiving the “Governor’s Distinguished Improvement” award, it is the BOE’s and the Facilities Master Planning Committee’s hope that students of today and of tomorrow will have a facility that can continue to provide them an educational space to thrive.