Capital project levy funds facilities needs for Columbia Heights Public Schools

Columbia Heights Public Schools is in the second of a 10-year capital project levy passed by voters in 2014. The levy provides $1 million annually, for a total of $10 million over a decade. The funds contribute to 60 percent capital facilities and 40 percent technology needs.

Images of the bus turnaround at Valley View Elementary School. An important safety change needed for the area was to eliminate a drive-through where cars were competing with buses. Buses now have a separate entry and exit to the east side of the building and other personal vehicles park on the west side of the building. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
Images of the bus turnaround at Valley View Elementary School. An important safety change needed for the area was to eliminate a drive-through where cars were competing with buses. Buses now have a separate entry and exit to the east side of the building and other personal vehicles park on the west side of the building. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)

The capital project levy funds first became available in fiscal year 2015-16.

The district identified three first year facility projects:

• Modifying or expanding existing vehicle entries, exits and parking for safety purposes at Highland Elementary School, including a new bus drop-off and pick-up. Vehicle entries, exits and parking will also be improved at Columbia Heights High School and the District/Family Center.

• Commissioning a research study to address extensive internal and external brick-pointing at Columbia Academy.

• Replacing main entry windows at Columbia Heights High School.

“We completed each of the three first-year priorities,” said Director of Finance and Operations Bill Holmgren. “With the first goal we accomplished safety, with the second goal beginning the process to extend the life of a facility and with the third goal we are achieving energy conservation, all of which are investments and cost-savings in the future.”

Holmgren says he and his team refer to the district’s 10-year facility plan as they forecast projects that can be funded through the levy. “We use the 2014 Levy funds wisely, meaning we must be financially prudent within the requirements of the law while addressing priorities.”

The second year priorities address parking, bus drop-off and pick-up and entry and exit safety improvements at Valley View and to begin the brick tuck-pointing at Columbia Academy.

Regarding Valley View, Holmgren said the most important safety change needed was eliminating a drive-through where cars were competing with buses. “This was unsafe for everyone concerned, most importantly our students,” he said. Buses now have a separate entry and exit to the east side of the building, while personal vehicles must park on the west side in a larger parking area. Holmgren added that work has begun on the brick tuck-pointing at Columbia Academy.

“I’m pleased to report each of our first-year projects were completed on-time and on-budget and the same should happen this year,” he said. “The bottom line is we are investing our taxpayer’s monies wisely.”

To learn more about the 2014 Capital Projects Levy and how the District is investing in facilities, visit colheights.k12.mn.us/capitalprojectslevy. For more information, contact Holmgren at 763-528-4411 or [email protected]

Compiled by Sarah Burghardt at [email protected]

he Capital project levy funding has contributed to improvements of vehicle entries, exits and parking to the Columbia Heights District/Family Center and Highland Elementary School. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
Before and after pictures of the Valley View Elementary School entrance and exit driveways. Buses and personal vehicles were given separate entrance and exit driveways for safety reasons. Personal vehicles stay to the west side of the building, while buses operate on the east side. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
The Capital project levy is funding improvements to the Columbia Heights High School entrance, which includes replacing the main entry windows. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)
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Before and after pictures of the Valley View Elementary School entrance and exit driveways. Buses and personal vehicles were given separate entrance and exit driveways for safety reasons. Personal vehicles stay to the west side of the building, while buses operate on the east side. (Photo courtesy of Columbia Heights Public Schools)