Letter: Changing view on bond vote
I recently wrote a letter questioning the Re-1 school district’s proposed $122 million bond issue — mainly because of the $35 million it includes for a new pre-K to eighth-grade school between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
I was concerned that the new school’s remote location, just south of the Highway 82 Westbank exit, would require long commutes by hundreds of buses and parents transporting kids to and from Glenwood and Carbondale. Also, I believe that major public facilities, whenever possible, should be located within existing city boundaries.
Since then, however, I’ve learned that a surprisingly large number of school-age kids (300-plus) are already living between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, and a new school in that locale should actually reduce daily bus and family commutes.
The district expects the new school to open in the fall of 2017 with between 310 and 330 students between Buffalo Valley and Aspen Glen. In 10 years, enrollment there is expected to reach 400 to 500.
Forecasting population and enrollment growth is a tricky business, of course. But assuming that these projections are reasonably accurate, the new school should reduce not only transportation costs, but also overcrowding in Glenwood Springs. And whatever you think about our county’s history of sprawling development, locating schools close to the students who’ll use them is both sensible and cost-effective.
By building a school to serve the Westbank, Ironbridge, Spring Valley and Cattle Creek areas, enrollment at Sopris Elementary should fall by as many as 200, while Glenwood Middle School will shrink by about 100. We may even be able to retire those schools’ modular outside classrooms, and still have room for preschool kids to return to Sopris Elementary.
Add that to a much-needed renovation of Glenwood Springs Elementary School (which requires local matching funds to secure a $9 million state grant), as well as major building renovations in Carbondale and Basalt and a $15 million plan for subsidized teacher housing across the district, and the proposed bond issue starts to look like a pretty good investment.
I started out skeptical, but after further homework and consideration, I’m now confident that the district is making a good-faith effort to anticipate and prudently plan for all of our communities’ facilities needs.
This November I’ll be voting yes for the Re-1 bond issue, and I encourage others to do the same.
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