The Jefferson County Board of Education unanimously selected the Candelas neighborhood as a site for a new school and started the conversation about the district’s next bond issue to build more.
“I’m very pleased,” Tim Reed, Jeffco’s …
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“I’m very pleased,” Tim Reed, Jeffco’s executive director of facilities and construction management said following the decision. “It’s encouraging that they’re recognizing that we need to maximize the size and amount of seats we need with the amount of resources we have.”
The decision came after a year of district presentations and board discussions about the overcrowding concerns along the county’s Northwest Corridor, which generally runs west of Indiana Avenue from Golden to the Jeffco-Boulder county line. The 25-acre site in Arvada was one of three locations being considered, including a K-8 at Table Rock and a K-6 in the Leyden Rock communities. The Table Rock subdivision is furthest south along the corridor in unincorporated Jeffco. The Leyden Rock community, also in Arvada, lies between Candelas and Table Rock.
The district had initially considered Table Rock because it said it would be the largest school it could construct with the $18 million allocated for the building. Parents preferred either Leyden Rock or Candelas because those sites were closer to the overcrowded schools.
The Candelas site, north of 82nd Avenue on Indiana Avenue, will address enrollment concerns at West Woods Elementary, Meiklejohn Elementary and, possibly, Oberon Middle School. The building will either be either a K-6 or a K-8, a decision to be made by the board in coming weeks.
“It troubles me greatly for our students if we end up with a scenario where we have K-6 students who then have to matriculate to a K-8 for their seven-eight years and join a cohort that’s already been together for six years,” board president Ken Witt said during the meeting about the grade configuration of the possible Leyden Rock and Candelassites. “I would much rather see us do K-6s in that environment and have the solution to make certain that we’re not joining long cohorts with short cohorts and causing difficulties for those students.”
Members on all sides of the board table agreed to revisit grade configurations before making a decision. A K-6 elementary school, a separate seven-eight middle school or a K-8 school are possible on the site.
“I’m just skeptical,” said Darcie Bolton Weiser, a Meiklejohn parent. “I don’t know what they (the board majority) are going to try and pull at the next meeting. On the other hand, I do see progress here. We see something happening in our community, something that we — the parents — have been asking for, for a long, long time. So it is encouraging to see that moving forward.”
The board also voted unanimously to start working on a bond issue to fund the creation of other schools in the Leyden Rock and Table Rock areas, pay for the remainder of the Sierra Elementary School project and add a third wing onto Ralston Valley High School and other immediate facilities’ needs.
Planning and construction for the school will begin later this fall, with a targeted opening date of fall 2017.
“We have a need for a K-8 at that site — the site can accommodate that — and I want to see the most bang for our buck,” Bolton Weiser said. “I would be happy with a K-6, but I think there’s a lot that remains to be seen … There’s so much still that needs to be addressed, but this is a step forward.”
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