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Monument school district weighing options after voters reject bond again

school overcrowded

After local voters rejected a bond for a new school, School District 38 is heading back to the drawing board to address the overcrowded elementary and middle schools.

Julie Stephen, a spokesperson for the school district, said they will be working with the new school board and holding additional public input meetings to find a solution.

"We will be formulating a plan to hear from the community again, offering opportunities to help us develop short and long term goals and planning," Stephen said. "So that we can provide the proper infrastructure, the proper facilities, the proper program for each and every one of our students."

Fifty-five percent of voters in D-38 were against ballot item 4A, which would have allowed the Lewis-Palmer school district to obtain a $29.985 million bond for a new elementary school. Tuesday's defeat marks the second time in a row that the school district was not able to garner enough support to obtain a financing bond since 2006.

Scott Saunders, who voted against the measure, said the bond structure and language worried fellow Monument property owners.

"So they designed a bond that was going to keep the payments fairly level over time," Saunders said. "But to do that meant that now we had a lot of excessive interest. Millions and millions of dollars of excessive interest that were baked into the bond. So it was much more expensive and costly and in my opinion much more wasteful."

Voters have put off the Lewis-Palmer School District's vision of a new school but the problem remains, with D-38 using modulars as a short-term fix for the overcrowded classrooms.

Lance Pearce, a resident in Monument, says the problem affects his daughter, who is in sixth grade but attends an elementary school building.

"She misses out on having a full-size science lab as a result of that," Pearce said.

Parents say Bear Creek Elementary School was originally a middle school but converted to an elementary school as the community grew. If the bond had passed, a new elementary school would have been built and Bear Creek Elementary would have been converted back to its original function as a middle school.

Saunders said Grace Best Education Center should be converted back to an elementary school to accommodate the growing student population.

But according to district leaders, the building was build in the late 1950s and could cost up to 20 million dollars to renovate. Stephen said a renovation would also not address the needs of students in the Jackson Creek area, where the new school would have been built.

When D-38 consulted architects about the future of Grace Best, the experts advised the school to not spend more than $5 million in renovations due to diminishing returns. The CRP Architects firm also mentioned that "mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems have largely reached the end of their service life. The layout of the building is not conducive to 21st century instructional practices for typical district programs."

Saunders says part of the overcrowding is already being addressed by charter schools like Monument Academy which is set to expand its facilities and offer about 300 more seats for middle school students in 2020.

"I think the community could maybe get behind some incremental steps that are not necessarily as expensive," Saunders said. "The community has twice said we don't want these expensive bonds.

Education / Local News

Zachary Aedo

Comments

1 Comment

  1. Grace Best Elementary was a viable “public” school perfectly located in the Town of Monument.

    Then D38 closed it and implemented “deferred maintenance”, translates to letting this school rot from lack of full maintenance.

    When school boards betray the public trust to be faithful custodians of taxpayer facilities, it is no wonder our new D38 Superintendent observed that D38 must work to reestablish a culture of trust with our community.

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