FAQS

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ABOUT CONSTRUCTION

What are we building?

The campaign includes:

  • Construction of a new K-8 schoolhouse, gym and a music and science learning center
  • Re-envisioning of the original school building as an outdoor Central Area and tower
  • Redesign of a pedestrian-friendly campus separating cars from people
  • Green spaces (playing fields, outdoor classrooms, sledding hill and commons)
  • Campus sustainability and energy efficiency upgrades
  • Necessary site work including improved septic, water, and technology systems
  • Four employee housing unites
  • Compass administration building remodel

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What will happen to the original school and the tower?

In addition to getting a new, state of the art facility, we are also paying tribute to our history. In order to make way for this, the original building will come down as part of Phase II construction.

The tower will be rebuilt, on its same footprint, as a structural and iconic element of the campus. If the original logs are viable, the tower will be re-clad with them. For the first time in a long time, the tower will be accessible via a spiral staircase that leads up to a covered viewing platform, ensuring vistas and egg drops for years to come.

The existing Central Area will also remain in its current footprint, and it will become an outside amphitheatre covered with fabric shade sails. The result will be a stunning, multi-purpose outdoor space:  classroom, performance space and gathering spot. Lastly, the outline of the existing school will remain, featured in the landscape as garden walls and carrying through to the inside of the new music building floor as a decorative line where the footprints overlap.

During deconstruction, we will recycle as much of the original structures as we can to minimize waste across the site.

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Why has the campaign/construction budget gone up by $1.5M?

The original master plan was expedited in 2009/10 to meet the BEST Grant deadline and at the time we weren’t able to adequately contemplate the educational uses that exist today — as our verification process in 2014 revealed. There was also a gap between the budget assumptions of that time and construction realities today. For example, square footages for the school increased as we sought to accommodate an additional 5-8 classroom (one more than we had in 2010) and an art classroom in the main building (current best practices). These two spaces added approximately 2,000 sf, and the attendant costs, to our design.

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Can’t you just leave the old school up?

In order to keep that building, no matter the use, we have to bring it up to code, and, at a conservative estimate of $8 million, we know we can’t afford to do that. Letting it stand empty is not an option; mothballing a building comes with huge maintenance and insurance costs that would not be responsible fiscal choices.

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Why are you tearing down the straw bale art building?

Let’s be frank: we have been limping along with an art building that is in a state of disrepair. The structure is not in physical condition that’s suitable to house an educational space any longer. That said, we’re still considering the use of that building for a future greenhouse conversion, storage, or other non-classroom space. It remains to be seen what the final outcome will be.

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What is the target construction schedule? When will building begin?

We officially broke ground in July 2014, following a groundbreaking ceremony on June 3. Phase I construction has progressed over the summer and the new gym is planned for opening in May 2015, with the K-8 schoolhouse on schedule to be complete by June 2015. Phase II construction, including the Music and Science learning center and Outdoor Central Area is dependent upon the successful realization of Phase II fundraising.

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Is there a phased plan or do we build this all at once?

Yes, there is a phased plan:

Preparation: Spring 2013-Spring 2014: Central septic and intersection improvements at base of drive; bid out for a project manager; bid out for architect; host community design meetings; bid out for general contractor; develop construction drawings and engineering.

Phase 1: Spring 2014-Fall 2015: Deconstruct the gym, which clears the site for the new school building; break ground on main building while ACS continues in the original building.

Phase 2: Summer 2015: New gym and schoolhouse open; work begins on renovation of original building.

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Where will school take place when construction is happening?

Classes will be held in the original building while construction is happening on the new schoolhouse. Once the school is complete (scheduled for June 2015), classes will occur there, while the original building is then renovated. There will be no need to relocate classes off-site or in temporary buildings to accommodate construction, with the exception of one modular which will house the educational spaces that were previously held in the gym.

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Are you building this as a LEED-certified project?

Yes. Not only are we are targeting LEED Gold Certification, and we are also taking the “2030 Carbon Neutral Challenge.”

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ABOUT DESIGN

What are we building?

The campaign includes:

  • Construction of a new K-8 schoolhouse, gym and a music and science learning center
  • Re-envisioning of the original school building as an outdoor Central Area and tower
  • Redesign of a pedestrian-friendly campus separating cars from people
  • Green spaces (playing fields, outdoor classrooms, sledding hill and commons)
  • Campus sustainability and energy efficiency upgrades
  • Necessary site work including improved septic, water, and technology systems
  • Four employee housing unites
  • Compass administration building remodel

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Do you have design priorities in place?

Yes! They are the heart of our decision-making process:

“We will create a place that:

  • fosters lifelong learning,
  • builds community,
  • promotes academic excellence,
  • reveres the natural environment, and
  • sustains the school’s heritage, essence and inventive roots.”

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What will happen to the original school and the tower?

In addition to getting a new, state of the art facility, we are also paying tribute to our history. In order to make way for this, the original building will come down as part of Phase II construction.

The tower will be rebuilt, on its same footprint, as a structural and iconic element of the campus. If the original logs are viable, the tower will be re-clad with them. For the first time in a long time, the tower will be accessible via a spiral staircase that leads up to a covered viewing platform, ensuring vistas and egg drops for years to come.

The existing Central Area will also remain in its current footprint, and it will become an outside amphitheatre covered with fabric shade sails. The result will be a stunning, multi-purpose outdoor space:  classroom, performance space and gathering spot. Lastly, the outline of the existing school will remain, featured in the landscape as garden walls and carrying through to the inside of the new music building floor as a decorative line where the footprints overlap.

During deconstruction, we will recycle as much of the original structures as we can to minimize waste across the site.

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I hear the original school is coming down. Why can’t it be saved?

The original school building has been a significant topic since the day this project was a spark of an idea, over a decade ago. Step one was to determine whether we could keep and upgrade the 8,000 square foot building in its entirety. At a cost in excess of $8 million, that option quickly fell off of the list.  Step two was to consider downsizing and repurposing the building, preserving the tower and Central Area, an idea that was put to a lengthy and thorough analysis. The more the DAG and Design Team dug into the realities, the more challenges appeared. Downsizing removes structural walls and divorces the building from the original foundation. The logs are infested with bugs. Ramps and lifts would be installed throughout the Central Area to meet accessibility codes. Ductwork would thread the ceiling. In short, the space we were striving to preserve would be unrecognizable AND we would still have a 42-year-old building to maintain. The more we learned, the more we woke up to the fact that we had to take the final step in letting go. The original building is not viable. As soon as we opened our hearts and minds to the option of keeping the tower while designing a new building to house music/performing arts and a project room, the campus concept fell fully into place. What we came to realize is that the spirit of the school actually resides in each of us, rather than in the building itself. What we are preserving is this magnificent piece of land, our iconic tower, the Central Area (now we’ll have two: indoors and outdoors), the way we approach learning, our relationships, and our traditions.

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Why has the campaign/construction budget gone up by $1.5M?

The original master plan was expedited in 2009/10 to meet the BEST Grant deadline and at the time we weren’t able to adequately contemplate the educational uses that exist today — as our verification process in 2014 revealed. There was also a gap between the budget assumptions of that time and construction realities today. For example, square footages for the school increased as we sought to accommodate an additional 5-8 classroom (one more than we had in 2010) and an art classroom in the main building (current best practices). These two spaces added approximately 2,000 sf, and the attendant costs, to our design.

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Can’t you just leave the old school up?

In order to keep that building, no matter the use, we have to bring it up to code, and, at a conservative estimate of $8 million, we know we can’t afford to do that. Letting it stand empty is not an option; mothballing a building comes with huge maintenance and insurance costs that would not be responsible fiscal choices.

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Will the Central Area be the same?

The Central Area will always be the heart of the school, both architecturally and philosophically. We recognize its importance and as such it is a paramount priority in the design of our new school. We hope the new Central Area will accommodate more people more comfortably and still retain the intimacy that we all love about the original. And now we will have a second Central Area, one that is outdoors in the footprint of the original school building. So, the Central Area won’t be the same; it’s going to be better.

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Will there be a community kitchen? An ice rink? Staff offices? Bathrooms in every learning center? A library? Space for visiting artists? The latest technology? A greenhouse garden? Playgrounds? (You get the idea.)

These — and all other wish list items submitted by the community — are being considered by the Design Advisory Group (DAG), a ten-member volunteer school committee that is charged with setting priorities and vision for the new campus. Using the design guiding principles, the DAG will filter, prioritize and share these suggestions with our Design Team, Studio B | Cuningham.

Here is a real-world example of how this filtering process works: during the comment period a student suggested a water fountain in each classroom. Before the DAG passes this idea along to the Design Team, they will first have a discussion about how it lines up with the design guiding principles. It may be in concert with “promotes academic excellence,” because students spend more time in the classroom and less time going back and forth to get hydrated. Alternately, this wish list item may be in conflict with “builds community,” because less time is spent interacting with fellow students and staff on the way to and at the communal water fountain. Weighing the merits of each against the principles, and against the master plan vision, the DAG will prioritize goals and pass those filtered priorities along to the Design Team.

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Why are we fundraising for playing fields?

From the beginning of this project, we knew the site was equally as important as the buildings. We intentionally selected a design team that had a landscape architect (not all of them do). We have honored this spectacular piece of property by making the landscape a focal part of our design.

With that in mind, we’ve had a consistent goal to create a pedestrian-centric, outdoor campus experience. The new site plan absorbs the existing playing field for the main school building and bus drop-off area. It is vital that we get traffic and cars out of the center of campus, so we are swapping our existing parking lot for the future home of our playing field. This will need to be landscaped, irrigated and laid with sod. It is part of our vision to create campus greens on the limited topography available at the center of the school. The beauty of this design is that the Early Childhood Center and gym will be directly adjacent to the playing field.

 

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Are you building this as a LEED-certified project?

Yes. Not only are we are targeting LEED Gold Certification, and we are also taking the “2030 Carbon Neutral Challenge.”

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What will happen to the gym?

In the summer of 2014, the original gym was torn down, with its materials sorted for recyling. A new gym will be built between the existing maintenance barn and parking lot egress, using exterior materials that blend with the surrounding environment. The interior will be designed to be a flexible space that can convert with ease from a gym to an event hall.

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Will you be able to keep the garden?

Of course! We’re keeping the existing garden and also planning our site to allow for additional growing opportunities, such as a campus greenhouse, as the educational program dictates.

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Have you integrated renewable energy plans?

Absolutely! We are dedicated to taking full advantage of the viable sources of renewable energy on our property. Currently, the best and most cost effective source is solar energy.

But first, it is important to begin with a highly efficient building design that minimizes the need to turn on lights, cooling or heating any more than necessary. Current energy modeling estimates the new K-8 and Gym/Community Hall buildings at approximately 62% savings over the national average for school buildings, or a 38% reduction in energy usage over the baseline design required by national energy standards.

This combination of renewable energy and energy efficiency will help us meet our LEED Gold certification goal and our target for the Carbon Neutral 2030 Challenge.

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How will the kids be involved?

We are committed to including students in the design and building process. Starting in 2013, longtime teacher Chris Faison began student involvement. Projects thus far include: a Student Apprentice Architectural Group that, among its projects, is building a model of the schematic design; student photographers who are video-archiving the campus as it exists today as well as creating a construction time lapse video; and all ages staking out the new building. We will also be providing regular tours of the construction site to students. It is an organic process and we will take advantage of the many amazing opportunities for kids to get involved, as they present themselves.

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How have you involved the community in the design process?

In the fall of 2013, we initiated a Co-Creative Design Process that included an array of opportunities for community members to join the design conversation during a two-month comment period. Participation was welcomed through community design meetings, teacher and staff gatherings, Facebook comments, suggestion boxes, email and office hours. The process generated 191 unique suggestions that were logged and delivered to the Design Advisory Group for consideration. The DAG greenlighted 73% of them during Schematic Design, with more under consideration during Design Development.

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How can we stay informed?

By liking our Facebook page and signing up for e-news, you’ll have updates and invitations to participate delivered right to your inbox. You can also visit our website where, we publish building progress posts and other news.

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What will the new facilities provide for the students and staff?

The main deliverable will be a new school — with ample space to learn, an energy-efficient building, 21st Century technology, functional/cleanable spaces, and, frankly, non-apologetic bathrooms — that makes room for ACS’s unique philosophy of experiential, interdisciplinary, cross-age learning.

In short, the new facilities will allow us to live our philosophy and build our future. At the Community School, we encourage students to take risks, to reflect, and to keep an open mind. They respond with imaginations that seem to know no bounds, except those imposed by their overcrowded classrooms. These young scholars, artists, builders, musicians, scientists, writers, and actors will now have the room they need to soar.

Students and staff will benefit from:

  • Facilities that are as innovative as the school’s philosophy and as imaginative as its students and staff
  • An additional 5,000 square feet of learning space
  • 25% more classroom space and 50% increase in visual and performing arts areas
  • Energy-efficient spaces that students can monitor and study
  • Accessibility for those with physical disabilities
  • A community hall that converts to a gymnasium
  • Pedestrian-friendly campus that separates cars from people
  • Improved water and septic systems, and much more

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What will the new facilities provide for the community?

Students will be able to realize their bright futures and limitless potential, the repercussions of which just happen to better the entire valley and, dare we say, the world. ACS alums — who are making a difference as teachers, designers, actors, entrepreneurs, and musicians (and so much more) and who have a deep connection to this place — contribute to the social fabric of their communities.

We are building facilities that support this expansive vision and will be an asset to public education and the community. There are three direct community benefits:

  • A community hall available for functions
  • Four employee housing units
  • Potential for summer programming on the campus

In addition, an investment in ACS will support broad returns such as:

  • Promoting educational excellence in the U.S., including facilities that are as innovative as the school itself
  • Educational choice in the Roaring Fork Valley with equal access to ACS’s small school environment, low student/teacher ratios, award-winning curriculum, and integrated arts program
  • Environmental leadership, including renewable energy, use of green building materials, improved energy efficiency, natural daylighting, and LEED Gold targets

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ABOUT THE DESIGN TEAM

Who is serving on the Design Advisory Group?

The DAG is a group of ten committed volunteers who are meeting weekly to create the vision and priorities for our new campus and collaborate on them with Studio B | Cuningham. Those who signed up to serve are:

  • Jeffie Butler, ACS parent and Compass board member
  • Lara Deyarmond, ACS parent
  • Jim Gilchrist, Principal
  • Deborah Jones, former ACS parent and teacher, founder Wyly Community Art Center*
  • Jason LaPointe, ACS parent and Construction Executive Committee member
  • Erica Murray, ACS alumni and parent
  • Melanie Muss, ACS parent and Compass board president
  • Lynn Nichols, former ACS parent and librarian
  • Marci Peters, ACS parent
  • Greg Pickrell, CCS parent and Compass board member
  • Skye Skinner, Compass executive director

* Rotated off

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Who is on the Project and Design Teams?

The Project and Design Teams, which were selected by unanimous vote, bring 78 years in business and dozens of prestigious awards, to their collaboration with us on ACS’s new campus:

Consilium Partners, project manager

Studio B | Cuningham, design team

Evans Chaffee, general contractor

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Since the architects are the ones who designed Aspen Middle School, will our school look like that?

To quote our executive director and Design Team in stereo: “Absolutely not!” All good architecture is contextual. That is, it refers and responds to its context. The Middle School design reflects what the Aspen School Board wished for, and the site demanded. These factors — unique to each project — will come into play at our school as well, with our vision and setting. The Design Team is especially excited to work on a project as singular and full of character as this one and to deliver a product that reflects this community.

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How did you select the project manager and design team?

After we earned the BEST grant from the Colorado Department of Education that made ours a viable project, we also received support from the State in the form of guidance on best practices in our selection process for project manager and architect. These guidelines have been developed through the State’s five years and 315 public school rebuilding projects since the BEST granting program was established in 2008.

Following this advice, we moved forward with finding the ideal team through a process that was formal, rigorous, and competitive. Here is an overview of the process:

For each of the two positions, ACS published a “Request for Proposals/Qualifications” in a variety of public outlets (local newspapers, the Colorado Department of Education’s list serve, an email announcement to our 900+ digital community members, a school e-newsletter, and the I Believe ACS campaign website). Two volunteer selection committees were developed, one for each open position. The school received 13 proposals for project manager and nine for architect, each of which was individually reviewed by the relevant committee members. Following this study period, the selection committees gathered to discuss the proposals and select by consensus a short list of four candidates to proceed onto the final stage of interviews. At the end of the interview day, the committee deliberated the merits of each proposal against criteria that included: profile in the field, qualifications, staffing, approach, experience, and high-performance design. To objectively sort the architectural candidates and provide structure for their discussions, the committee members used a common ranking sheet.

The selection by each committee was unanimous, as were the two ratifications by the Compass board of directors. In July, the board awarded the project management contract to Consilium Partners and, in August, the architectural design contract to Studio B | Cuningham. The project managers participated as non-voting members in the selection of the architect.

This entire process was made possible by 538 ACS staff and volunteer hours dedicated to selecting the team that would be the absolute best fit for our unique school. Thank you to our selection committee members who so generously shared their time and wisdom over the summer:

    • Bart Axelman, ACS parent
    • Lee Bryant, ACS parent
    • Jim Gilchrist, Principal
    • Colleen Kanada, Consilium Partners * ✦
    • Matt Lamm, ACS parent
    • Scott Newell, BEST *
    • Lynn Nichols, Alumni parent
    • Martin Pearson, Compass financial advisor
    • Elizabeth Parker, Aspen School Board member
    • Chris Penney, Consilium Partners * ✦
    • Greg Pickrell, Compass board member and CCS parent
    • Skye Skinner, Compass executive director

* Non-voting members
✦ Participant in selection of Architect only

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Why aren’t all members of the design team local?

As has been previously noted, after we earned the BEST grant, we also received guidance from the State on best practices in our selection process for the design team. One of BEST’s key recommendations was that the school specifically not limit its selection in any way, such as criteria for how local the candidates were or what relationship they might have to the school. Rather, BEST places a priority on finding the ideal fit and qualifications for our project, regardless of provenance or connection. We embrace this philosophy, at the same time as we believe in supporting the local economy and talent pool. We are currently developing guidelines for construction hiring that will further address these issues.

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With so many talented architects in our immediate school family, how did we end up with a firm with no connection to the school?

We couldn’t agree with you more – there was an extraordinary amount of talent that turned out for both the project management and architectural design positions. We were wowed by the candidates across the board. Of course, this made selecting the teams an extremely competitive process.

As noted above, the criteria for selection was to find the best fit and qualifications for our project, without limiting our search to any one trait such as history with ACS. That being said, the design team who won the contract, Studio B | Cuningham, does not lack in connection to the school. Founded in Aspen in 1991, Studio B has deep roots in the valley. In addition to leading the design of our new campus, they are the architects for a neighbor. As such, they have several years of knowledge about this mesa, as well as a connection to this particular piece of land. They have also realized designs for two other schools in our district, the Aspen Middle School and the renovation of the Aspen Elementary School.

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ABOUT THE NUMBERS

How does the $13.1 million campaign budget break down?

 

  • $4.2M BEST challenge grant (secured August, 2012)
  • $4.9M BEST grant match (secured May 1, 2013)
  • $4M Campaign balance (Phase II)
  • $13.1M Campaign Total

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Why has the campaign/construction budget gone up by $1.5M?

The original master plan was expedited in 2009/10 to meet the BEST Grant deadline and at the time we weren’t able to adequately contemplate the educational uses that exist today — as our verification process in 2014 revealed. There was also a gap between the budget assumptions of that time and construction realities today. For example, square footages for the school increased as we sought to accommodate an additional 5-8 classroom (one more than we had in 2010) and an art classroom in the main building (current best practices). These two spaces added approximately 2,000 sf, and the attendant costs, to our design.

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Why don’t you just expand the student body to make the numbers work?

ACS’s small school roots date back to its founding in 1970 as a community of learners dedicated to experiential, interdisciplinary learning in an intimate, nurturing setting — a philosophy that is supported by a small school. This size continues to be essential to ACS’s success. Our size is also limited by both our charter contract and Pitkin County restrictions.

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What does Phase II funding cover?

The $4M in Phase II funding will allow for the full realization of the campus, including elements such as:

  • Music and Science learning center
  • Pedestrian-centric campus
  • Green spaces for playing fields, outdoor classrooms, sledding hill and school commons
  • Four employee housing units
  • LEED Gold-targeted sustainability upgrades
  • Compass administration building remodel

Conversely, if the school does not meet its campaign goals, these valuable assets will be left on the cutting room floor.

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What happens if we don’t raise the money (final Phase II funds)?

We always knew we had to raise an additional $2.5 million above and beyond the BEST Grant to realize our dreams for a new campus. If we don’t raise the Phase II funds (now at $4 million, as explained above), there are two worst-case scenarios: stop with an incomplete project or go into debt. Obviously, neither of these are good options. We have to be successful at fundraising to do this and it’s going to take all of us. You can help the campaign by:

  • talking up the school and the campus construction
  • showing community support – be an ambassador for the school
  • sharing digital news with your friends
  • connecting the campaign with prospective donors
  • sending in or making your multi-year pledge

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Why are we fundraising for playing fields?

From the beginning of this project, we knew the site was equally as important as the buildings. We intentionally selected a design team that had a landscape architect (not all of them do). We have honored this spectacular piece of property by making the landscape a focal part of our design.

With that in mind, we’ve had a consistent goal to create a pedestrian-centric, outdoor campus experience. The new site plan absorbs the existing playing field for the main school building and bus drop-off area. It is vital that we get traffic and cars out of the center of campus, so we are swapping our existing parking lot for the future home of our playing field. This will need to be landscaped, irrigated and laid with sod. It is part of our vision to create campus greens on the limited topography available at the center of the school. The beauty of this design is that the Early Childhood Center and gym will be directly adjacent to the playing field.

 

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Does this include anticipated maintenance for the school, and how will that affect the school’s annual budget?

The budget does include projected costs for regular maintenance of buildings and systems, which is required by the BEST grant and is part of our due diligence as a responsible nonprofit organization. We also anticipate that the increase in energy efficiency will help to offset some of the increase in maintenance. Finally, we have taken into account inflation and built in contingencies, which, combined, has resulted in very conservative estimates for building and running a sustainable campus.

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Is this master plan reasonable and responsible?

Yes, not only are we repurposing as many buildings as we can, the additional square footage amounts to just over 5,000 square feet. Comparing the school’s growth patterns, per capita square footages, and size of other schools tells a story of modest growth:

Total facilities square footage (s.f.) =

  • 16,652 at ACS today
  • 21,870 at ACS tomorrow (with build-out)
  • Net gain: 5,218
  • Increase: 31%

Student body size =

  • 80 at ACS in 1972
  • 127 at ACS today and tomorrow
  • Increase: 59% 1972 to 2012
  • Increase: 0% 2012 to build out

Per student s.f. =

    • 131 at ACS today
    • 172 at ACS tomorrow
    • Increase: 31%

Compare to:

  • 253 at Aspen Elementary School
  • 241 at Aspen Middle School

Avg. Classroom s.f. =

  • 375 at ACS today
  • 475 at ACS tomorrow
  • Increase: 27%

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SOURCES FOR FUNDRAISING

What is the timeline for fundraising?

ACS and Compass (the nonprofit that oversees the school) worked for four years to secure the BEST funding. In August 2012, the school was successful in its appeal to receive a grant with a 54% match and an extended match deadline of May 1, 2013. (Match percentages vary by school and most BEST grant matches are due on November 1 of the application year.) We met the match, received the grant, and have given ourselves a timeline of December 31, 2014 to complete the total campaign goal, including BEST monies, of $13.1M. We have $4M to go and continue to actively seek contributions to the campaign so we can fully realize our design.

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Who is Compass? Does any portion of the campaign funds go to them?

Since 1970, Compass has provided progressive educational opportunities to people of the Roaring Fork Valley. A nonprofit organization, Compass operates Aspen Community School; its sister charter school, Carbondale Community School; and a private preschool, the Early Childhood Center. Compass employs a comptroller who manages the finances for the organization and its three schools, including those of the campaign. The campaign also contracts the  services of a CPA who provides financial oversight to ensure that all campaign funds stay with the campaign, providing an additional checks and balance. So while 100% of campaign monies go through Compass, 0% of them go to Compass.

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Does all this money go directly to the campus plan or is some reserved for school administration?

100% of campaign funding goes to the campaign; no campaign dollars will go to school operations. They are held in separate accounts with separate oversight. If anything, we’re ensuring that we’re not taking anything away from the classrooms.

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How is the school district involved?

We are among the fortunate charter schools that have a supportive and collaborative relationship with their district. At the launch of the I Believe Campus Campaign, the Aspen School District made a contribution to our campus campaign of $240,931, which was apportioned from their Land Dedication Fees and which sent a strong message of support to the state. This is one of many ways the District supports us; in addition ACS receives:

  • 95% of Per Pupil Revenue
  • 100% Per Pupil share of mill levy funds that come into the district
  • Services such as Special Education oversight, professional development, bus driver
    training, bus maintenance, and student counseling
  • Wide ranging advisory resources, from financial to programming to student assessment

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Are we looking into grants from large corporations, such as Gates, etc?

Yes, we are pursuing all funding avenues, including grants. Based upon our research, grant funding is anticipated to represent a very small portion of this campaign. That being said, in July 2014, the I Believe Campus Campaign received a $125,000 grant from the Community Office for Resource Efficiency to support our energy initiatives.

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What happens if we don’t raise the money (final Phase II funds)?

We always knew we had to raise an additional $2.5 million above and beyond the BEST Grant to realize our dreams for a new campus. If we don’t raise the Phase II funds (now at $4 million, as explained above), there are two worst-case scenarios: stop with an incomplete project or go into debt. Obviously, neither of these are good options. We have to be successful at fundraising to do this and it’s going to take all of us. You can help the campaign by:

  • talking up the school and the campus construction
  • showing community support – be an ambassador for the school
  • sharing digital news with your friends
  • connecting the campaign with prospective donors
  • sending in or making your multi-year pledge

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Have we considered offering naming rights to donors?

Yes, we offer an array of naming opportunities. Interested funders should contact Skye Skinner at 970-923-4646 ext. 217.

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Are there school fundraisers we can leverage?

Yes, events are part of our overall development and communications strategies.

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Are the alumni involved, and how do we engage them?

Yes, alumni are a vital part of our community and of this campaign. You can help by connecting us with any alumni that you know (students and staff) so that we have the most up-to-date contacts for them.

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How much are the parents contributing?

As much as they can! We’re seeking 100% participation from parents and staff. Everyone is digging deep within their family budgets. For example, in the first two weeks of the campaign, the board of trustees and campaign steering committee personally committed more than $260,000. We are encouraging all donors, including parents, to make three-year pledges of support.

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Do the Aspen Education Foundation (AEF) or Aspen Valley Community Foundation (AVCF) plan to contribute any funds for this?

AEF does not fund capital projects. We will be reaching out to AVCF, as we will to all like-minded foundations.

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Is George Stranahan involved?

George’s legacy as an early school director and an enduring philosophical and philanthropic influence on the school is extraordinary. Without the support of George and his wife Patti, whose generosity includes donating the land on which the campus stands, ACS would not be here today. George and Patti have joined the campaign as donors.

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Help me understand the difference between an annual fund and a capital campaign. Why should I give to one when I’m giving to the other?

Let’s start with some definitions. An annual fund is money for the school’s current year operating expenses. Annual gifts make up the difference between what tax dollars cover and the actual cost of running the school. It is like a checking account that helps the school accomplish its daily work. Capital giving, on the other hand, buys brick and mortar building projects — new facilities and major renovations — and sometimes endowment as well. In our case, it’s especially important because as a charter school ACS cannot seek bond funding like other public schools. Because capital project gifts are often larger, you have the option of paying your pledge over two to three years.

The school asks for an annual gift even while you’re making a capital campaign donation for the same reason you have to pay your mortgage while you’re putting an addition on your house. The school must continue to meet its operating costs even as it’s making major improvements.

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Why should I give for new buildings that the school won’t offer until after my child graduates?

In any school, parents of previous generations of students gave the money to fund the resources your child enjoys today. Our children are warmed by the fires built by others.

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And if I don’t have a child in the school?

This response was written by ACS alum and former board member Mark Harvey. We couldn’t say it better ourselves:

“While our efforts are mainly local, our work goes way beyond the confines of the Roaring Fork Valley. Graduates of our programs have gone on to study at some of the nation’s finest universities and have distinguished themselves in areas ranging from public policy to the dramatic arts to wildlife biology and everything in between. Most importantly, many of our graduates have gone on to become community leaders and active citizens who engage in solving societal and environmental problems. While it is impossible to quantify the success of our graduates, in their responses to our questionnaires they repeatedly cite the rich learning environment and tolerant atmosphere at the Community School as one of the foundations to their later success. We strive to make every school year an opportunity for students of all ages to develop their capabilities and imagination in ways that will last a lifetime.”

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