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Grace Best Education Center, 66 Jefferson St., Monument.

MONUMENT • The future of the Grace Best Education Center facility was the topic of discussion during the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education’s latest workshop.

The D-38 board met for a workshop Jan. 12, during which superintendent Dr. KC Somers introduced board members to the ownership representatives for the project.

An ownership rep is a person or entity which represents the owners of a property, in this case the school district, in all facets of its development and renovation. It was decided during the board’s October meeting district leadership would review applications for the owners rep position.

“We generally favor a process to optimize the facility from either small- to large-scale,” Somers said. “Given the complexities and nuances of this project, we felt an owner’s rep was appropriate.”

Somers reminded the board the district searched for an owners rep with experience working with school districts and a background in construction management — particularly renovation of older buildings. Built in 1957 as a high school, Grace Best is in need of updates including asbestos abatement, roofing, fire suppression, accommodations for the American Disabilities Act, as well as electrical and heating upgrades.

Somers said 12 firms submitted applications, and the district awarded the role to a partnership between Anser Advisory’s Denver office and the Colorado office of Cooperative Strategies.

Kurt Connolly of Anser Advisory told board members their firm has a longstanding partnership with Cooperative Strategies, providing the project management and construction management related components of these types of complex challenges.

Cooperative Strategies is a national K-12 planning firm that will facilitate the development of a Facility Master Plan.

“You do have a pretty complex project in front of you, and that’s why we feel this project is a good fit for us,” said Kevin Ubert of Cooperative Strategies.

He said the firm has developed large-scale projects like statewide master plans to develop options for single building renovations like the Grace Best project.

Susan Miller, associate director of Cooperative Strategies, went over the next steps in the process of developing an FMP for the district. This included the creation of a steering committee.

On Jan. 13, Somers released an email informing the community of the formation of the steering committee comprised of students, teachers, staff, parents, business leaders and other community members.

“We encourage and invite our community to participate on this committee,” Somers said. “We are asking for a firm commitment from each committee member to ensure the effectiveness of this planning process.”

The committee’s role is to provide feedback to the district and the consulting team on considerations for developing options for the Grace Best facility. Cooperative Strategies and the district will facilitate the process.

Interest forms need to be returned to info@lewispalmer.org by 5 p.m., Jan. 25. Selected committee members will be notified prior to Jan. 29.

The district intends to host two “community dialogues” this spring. The first will focus on developing an educational framework which will be used to help develop options for the facility, Somers said. The second will focus on receiving input on those options.

As the process of engaging the community in the development process, a portion of the district’s website will be devoted to updates on Grace Best, including access to any documents the steering committee would have.

“Community engagement is critical,” Miller said. “We want transparency.”

Somers and Miller clarified the role of the steering committee was not to make a single determination of how best to use and renovate the facility, but rather create a list of prioritized options for it. The board will make the final determination.

Miller said Cooperative Strategies looks to come back to the board in a few months with recommendations.

School Board president Chris Taylor called for comments on how this process adheres to the district’s strategic plan, which is being finalized, and it’s five substrategies. Board secretary Tiffiney Upchurch said the process should make the final decision for the facility flexible, sustainable and defendable.

“This should be something that benefits our students first and foremost,” she said. “And this is something that should fit into what we see years down the road for our district as a whole.”

While the board of education will have a representative on the steering committee, it was determined any board members interested in serving on it will go through the same application process as the rest of the community stakeholders.

Currently, Grace Best is home to the district’s HomeSchool Enrichment Academy, District Science Center, student Transitions Program, a variety of school organizations such as Bearbotics, and partnerships with local nonprofit entities.

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