Shared from the 2/14/2018 Tri-Lakes Tribune eEdition

D-38 welcomes input on district facility expansion options

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Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman, standing, attended last week’s community meeting to help community stakeholders make informed choices about the district’s options. Photo by Avalon A. Manly

On Feb. 5, Lewis-Palmer School District 38’s administration building in Monument was filled with parents, family members and community stakeholders providing their ideas on the district’s options for facilities maintenance and expansion.

Carrie Bennett, of Learning Through Difference, facilitated the community event. Bennett and a team of trained volunteer facilitators guided small group conversations around specific topics meant to address the district’s most pressing needs: with hundreds of students expected to join D-38 in the next few years, how can administration and the board of education plan to expand?

A number of options, many brought forward by CRP Architects, have been discussed at previous board meetings and work sessions.

The first option, aimed at managing the district’s burgeoning enrollment numbers, is to either build or convert the Bear Creek Elementary School campus into an integrated kindergarten through eighth grade school.

“The Bear Creek site is designed to adapt,” said Brian Risley, principal architect at CRP.

“This seems like a short-term solution to a long-term problem,” said Cindy Roehrig, a community member in attendance. “We’re still going to need another elementary school (eventually.)”

Many of those present seemed to agree. At the end of the table deliberation segment on this option, Bennett asked attendees to vote by holding up one of two color-coded cards: purple for the K-through-8 plan and blue for instead building two new elementary schools — the meeting hall showed overwhelmingly blue.

This option would build one new school on the Bear Creek site and another in the Forest Lakes area, west of I-25.

Ultimately, the school board will decide which direction the district will take, but the feedback of the community is invaluable to them, said Mark Pfoff, board director.

“I wish we’d thought of this a long time ago,” he said of the facilitated group discussions.

The other discussion topic at the community meeting was what to do with the Grace Best building in Monument, which has long been an issue of contention in the district.

“It’s been a sore point for the district for years,” Roehrig said.

“It’s reaching the end of its useful life,” said Risley.

“And (a solution) isn’t as easy as declaring (Grace Best) an elementary school and turning the lights back on.”

CRP estimates Grace Best will require between $1 and $2 million in asbestos mitigation, as well as other renovations, before it could be usable again.

Currently, a newer part of the building houses Home School Academy students and extracurricular activities like sports.

The board will meet Thursday to discuss the community meeting, its results, the district’s timeline for growth, and next steps.

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