Lisa Scott, Chairperson of the School District CVC Task Force, presented a resolution supporting the relocation of the downtown school facilities to the School Board. The resolution, presented to board members for the first time Tuesday night, was a discussion item. There was no vote on the resolution.
The Task Force, authorized by the School Board, was charged with developing a conceptual and comprehensive master plan for Archuleta School District 50 Joint in order to align facilities to better support an environment conducive to student learning, district programming and safety for all individuals. The Task Force met three times over the past three months, in what Scott described as “difficult meetings with lots of discussion.”
The first thing the Task Force members did was to familiarize themselves with the District’s Master Facility Plan and the CVC Conceptual Master Plan. The Task Force then discussed the planning process, evaluated demographic information and agreed to set their sights on the goals, not focus on the obstacles. They then embarked upon evaluating the pros and cons of the current facilities. The Task Force determined that the high school and elementary school were not a priority at this time. However, the Task Force does acknowledge some fire code violations at the elementary school that need to be addressed and some identified maintenance issues that might be costly.
“The junior high and intermediate school have more compelling and paramount issues,” Scott said. According to the Task Force’s assessment, the intermediate school and junior high have inadequate bus drop and pickup and inadequate parent drop and pickup areas. Inadequate recess, playground and open area spaces and a dangerous crossing of Highway 160 for access to Town Park for PE classes and sports were also identified as problems. The intermediate school building is difficult to upgrade and modernize, especially plumbing and electrical. Another issue is that the closed campus concept cannot be easily enforced in schools within town limits and adjacent to highway boundaries. Additionally, the condition of the junior high roof is of utmost concern and there are fire code violations with the building.
On the plus side, the existing buildings have low operating costs because of the geothermal heat. The facilities are structurally sound and well maintained. The junior high has a science room, lab facilities and two gymnasiums.
The Task Force believes the intermediate school should be preserved as an historic site.
School superintendent Duane Noggle noted that if Pagosa Springs grows, the intermediate school cannot handle any more students. The junior high can handle 100-200 more students at the most.
The Task Force has identified potential school location sites and is working on a basic assessment of those locations. Scott pointed out that the multiple schools’ on one campus concept was just an idea. The Task Force determined at their first meeting that the district is not in a position to determine the viability of this idea.
“The Task Force is not leaning to a K-12 campus. We haven’t ruled it out, but it is not what is driving this and it did not end up in the CVC conceptual plan,” Scott said.
Finally, the Task Force addressed the perceived barriers and limitations to relocation, including enrollment issues, community perception and buy-in and funding. The Task Force acknowledged that proceeds from the sale of real estate can be reinvested in new, more modern facilities.
“Archuleta County needs to implement impact fees to help fund schools based upon growth,” Noggle said. Impact fees are charges assessed to a developer in an attempt to recover some, if not all, of the costs incurred by a local government to provide public facilities to serve a new development.
The Task Force voted unanimously to approve the resolution, which includes a recommendation that the District diligently pursue securing the Town of Pagosa Springs’ maintenance yard property located off 5th Street, adjacent to the High School parking lot, for its new Maintenance and Transportation building.
School Board Secretary, Sandy Caves, asked: “Does the Task Force have ideas of what they want from us?”
“What would you like us as a committee to help you with?” Scott replied.
Board president Mike Haynes suggested that the Task Force might help with the feasibility issues of how the district might fund new buildings. He was also interested in public opinion. “I want to hear from people outside of the Vision Council. I’m interested in hearing from everyone who has kids in school and doesn’t have kids in school,” Haynes said.
“The District needs to engage in their own planning process,” Scott replied, “to get information from their constituents.” Scott added that the January 13 public hearing on the conceptual plan will have a break out session focused on schools.
“We see the same people at these meetings,” Haynes said. “How do we engage more people to use as a barometer who aren’t showing up at these meetings?”
Task Force members include: Duane Noggle, Chris Hinger, Heidi Keshet, Rick Schur, Mark DeVoti, Bill Esterbrook, Steve Walston, Terry Alley, Carol Brown, Angela Atkinson, and Lisa Scott.