Mrachek facing wrecking ball; new facility finally underway


AURORA | Over the past four decades, thousands of Aurora students have passed through the halls of Mrachek Middle School.

And while many have fond memories of years spent there before heading to nearby Rangview High School, many will likely remember the school’s layout as, well, different.

The school at 1955 S. Telluride St. was built in 1975 using an “open classroom concept,” according to Aurora Public Schools. That meant no windows or interior walls to separate classrooms and, even after a remodel in the early 1990s, the school’s layout irked many teachers and administrators.

“This design has been a challenge for the school community,” APS said in a statement.

Now, that quirky building’s days, it seems, are numbered.

Crews broke ground last week on a new Mrachek Middle School.

Corey Christiansen, a spokesman for APS, said the new school will open in fall 2018 and construction should be complete in time for teachers to start moving in that summer.

That means just one more school year for the old Mrachek. Christiansen said the old facility will be bulldozed after the new one’s built.

According to a statement from APS, the new Mrachek will be built next to the old. It will be a two-story, 130,000-square foot building with separate “learning communities” for each grade level, the statement said.

The new building is being funded in part by a $16 million-grant from the state’s Building Excellent Schools Today fund. In total, APS is slated to receive $16,054,888 in BEST grants, according to Colorado Department of Education calculations, with the district kicking in another $24 million toward the school’s construction.

Updating Mrachek has been a priority for APS since at least 2012, when members of the district’s Long Range Facility Advisory Committee toured the 36-year-old school and determined it was in need of a major overhaul, district construction officials said last year.

However, the Mrachek project was contingent on voters passing a $300-million bond measure last fall. The Mrachek project received more BEST funds than any of the 31 projects approved to receive a portion of the grant money. Funded through marijuana excise taxes, the School Trust Lands and dollars generated by the Colorado Lottery, the BEST program was created in 2008 via a state law intended to help districts build and replace facilities.

As of Wednesday morning, the APS bond question, which appeared on the ballot as question 3C, was approved by exactly 57 percent of voters in Arapahoe County. In Adams County, which comprises just a small portion of the APS district, voters approved the question by about 9.5 percentage points.

Beyond Mrachek, the bond approval will provide the district with money to update and overhaul many other crowded and aging APS schools. The funds will be used to construct a new school serving grades six to 12 in northwest Aurora, as well as a new P-8 school in east Aurora and the replacement of Lyn Knoll Elementary School.

District officials have said the bond issue will increase residential property taxes by about $1.93 per month for every $100,000 of home value. That equals about $23 annually per $100,000 in property value.

Staff writer Quincy Snowdon contributed to this report.