9News features Gilpin High School’s new turf

Wastewater treatment plant improvement update

by Patty Unruh

The Gilpin County Board of Education held its regular meeting on Tuesday, September 4, at 7:00 p.m. Members Craig Holmes, Brook Ramsey, Sarah Swanson, Kersten Armstrong, and Steve Boulter were present, as well as Superintendent David MacKenzie and Secretary to the Board Joni Schmidt.

Congratulations and Celebrations

The high school football team visited Merino in its second game of the season and the Gilpin volleyball team participated in a tournament at West Grand last weekend. The competition was tough, but the Gilpin athletes played hard, Board members said.

Middle school sports are going well. The girls’ volleyball team won its game, and the football team has a lot of good players.

MacKenzie said last year’s yearbook is out. It was all in color and included prom and graduation. He was uncertain whether copies were still available for purchase.

9News Fanscape

MacKenzie showed a video about Gilpin’s new football field that aired on Denver’s 9News on Sunday, August 26. The story can be accessed on the school’s website,, on the home page under “Recent News and Announcements – School Fanscape Story Airs.” Select “read more” on the right, then click the link to view the video. The story is also on the district’s Facebook page.

Gilpin’s football coach Craig Ball and its athletic director Jeff Schuessler were featured along with the team.

The Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA) had interviewed Coach Ball and posted a story on its site about the new turf field, and 9News picked up the story.

Aerial photography taken by a drone panned over the turf, showing the bright colors and yard markings, as well as the breathtaking “fourteeners” visible from anywhere on the field.

After excavating much of the mountain last year, the playing field was resurfaced with a new artificial turf, an eleven-man field striped for eight, the 9News reporter noted.

“I think these guys can’t wait to be out here on this field and practice,” Schuessler commented.

9News took note of Gilpin School’s 8954’ elevation emblazoned on the field. Schuessler expressed that he didn’t know whether it was a source of intimidation or a source of pride.

The drone also displayed the view from the top of the new lights. 9News told its viewers that for the first time the Eagles will be able to play night games.

“We’re really looking forward to that,” Coach Ball remarked. “It’s going to bring something to our community to have a game on Friday night, which is what I believe football is all about in high school.”

The whole project is about giving back to the community, 9News reported. The hope is that it will draw bigger crowds and create deeper traditions in the years to come.

Getting Together

Holmes, Armstrong, and MacKenzie planned to attend the Colorado Association of School Board’s Region 8 fall meeting in Leadville on September 5.

A Board retreat will be held on Sunday, September 30, from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Faraday’s at the Isle of Capri.

Accreditation Rating

A preliminary accreditation rating is out from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). MacKenzie said both elementary and secondary schools are at the “performance” level, which is the highest.

“We just missed being ‘accredited with distinction,’” he added. “We are just ‘accredited.’ We’ll put forward a request for CDE to reconsider our rating. We have data to show that we did better than the state thought. We missed the cut-off by only two-tenths of a percent, and I feel we deserve to be accredited with distinction.”

The superintendent said that students did well in achievement, but fell short in academic growth, not making an average of one year’s growth in one year’s time. But he said they were at or surpassed the state average on 14 of 15 tests.

The request to reconsider the rating is due in mid-October.

Plans are also being considered on what the district might do differently this year. MacKenzie said that he and the principals had anticipated falling short in some areas and had begun to discuss plans last May for maintaining growth.

Policies on First Reading

Policies were presented to the Board for first reading. Some of these were part of MacKenzie’s recent effort to clean up old policies. The Board’s policy committee had met last week with him to review and make recommendations on wording and legal reference changes, which match what took place at the last session of the Colorado legislature.

The policies include those on public participation at school board meetings, online posting of financial information, funds from local tax sources, bus safety program, staff health regulations and parental leave, student distribution of noncurricular materials, and many more.

The members had no discussion, but are to perform a second reading of the policies at the first meeting in October.

Track and Field Update

The construction crew working on the field project is now working on the track. During this work, the football team will possibly need to practice elsewhere.

  A rubberized layer has been applied to the track and is still wet. A sealant is to be applied this Saturday. A good portion of the turf will need to have a cover over it so the sealant doesn’t get on it. Then a rubberized top will be applied, and striping will need to be done.

The fence will be completed after the track is done, and that will conclude the track and field portion of the site improvements.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvement

The district experienced water quality and safety issues last school year, and the superintendent has been working with an engineer to propose several solutions for a plant upgrade. The engineer is doing research on solutions and projected costs.

MacKenzie was confident that a plant upgrade, rather than a replacement, could be done. He felt that an upgrade could make the plant last another ten to 20 years. He anticipated a price tag of $75,000 to $100,000 for an upgrade, which he said would be less than a replacement.

The engineer is to finalize his research by December and give recommendations to the Board.

“We’ll have to submit an application to the Colorado Department of Public Health, and their process will take three to six months,” MacKenzie advised. “I’d like to do this in the summer of 2019, but we’ll be on the state’s timeline.”

He said the state is familiar with the district’s water plant and its non-compliance problems and should approve the application.

Sundry Items

The Crisis Response Team meets on September 10. The Safety Committee meets on September 19.

Amendment 73 will be on the 2018 Colorado ballot. If passed, it would raise $1.6 billion a year, chiefly in taxes on high earners, in additional revenue for Colorado’s public schools. The amendment is purportedly set up so local school districts decide where resources are most needed, and rural schools are to benefit. MacKenzie told the Board that supporters of Amendment 73 have asked local school boards to pass resolutions in favor of the amendment. He said if the Gilpin School Board was in favor, he could prepare a resolution and get it to the members for review. They agreed.

The district’s auditors, Holscher and Mayberry, have started the annual audit and will have a report in November.

A 2018 Subaru Impreza five-door vehicle has been purchased for student transportation. The vehicle, which replaces a Suzuki, is on-site but not in service pending registration and licensing. The Suzuki will be offered for sale at a later date.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 18, at 7:00 p.m.


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