Glenwood Springs Catholic school eyes expansion |

Glenwood Springs Catholic school eyes expansion

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The current school year will be a pivotal one at St. Stephen’s Catholic School in planning for the future.

Since 2006, the parochial school’s student population has increased 23 percent, with 146 enrolled students as of Aug. 29, crowding the available space to capacity.

“We’ve thought that we were increasing well in the past couple of years,” said St. Stephen’s Principal Thomas Alby. “And now we’ve arrived.”

Alby said that the school has seen an increase in enrollment for each of the past five years. And while increased attendance is good news for them, it also comes with a new set of challenges. St. Stephen’s is currently in preliminary planning stages for an addition to the school.

“(Increasing attendance) is definitely good news,” said Cliff McMillan, a priest at the school. “But whenever you’re growing you have growing pains. And this is part of the process of growing.”

According to McMillan, planning an expansion is a long process that the church has just recently begun. Discussions with the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver regarding an expansion of the school have not yet been held, but would be the first step if it’s determined that an expansion is warranted.

“At our current rate of growth it’s a necessary possibility,” McMillan said. “First we have to determine if the expansion is an absolute necessity.”

However, being a private school poses yet another set of challenges altogether with relying on donors to help in funding the project.

“One of the things that we have to deal with is the fact that we don’t have a tax base to draw from that says we have the money,” McMillan said. “We are completely dependent on our donors.”

Since the plans are in the preliminary stages, no estimated cost has been determined. But McMillan said that how this current school year plays out will be key in the planning process of the new facility.

“This year is going to be a telling year with the way the economy is,” he said. “If we hold steady through this year, it will be a good indicator that expansion is needed.”

McMillan indicated that conceptual plans call for eight additional classrooms, a gymnasium, new administration offices and a convent. Currently, the administration offices are located in the front of the existing facility while the school’s existing gymnasium is located in basement of the church.

In the minds of both Alby and McMillan, the school’s increase in enrollment is a testament to the school’s success.

“The interest that has peaked in Glenwood toward St. Stephen’s is that people are finding out that we’ve got a wonderful school here and that it’s open to not only Catholics but anyone,” McMillan said. “We’ve been a hidden secret in a sense, in the past we’ve not had that much attention, but people have discovered we’ve got a real gem here.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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