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Meetings set to discuss new school campus

Archuleta School District 50 Joint will host two meetings next week, soliciting public input for a proposed consolidated campus (and a subsequent bond to fund construction of that campus) as well as a meeting to solicit input and ideas from representatives of the local construction industry and the local builders association.

On Monday, Aug. 15, at 5 p.m., the district will host a community meeting in the middle school library to present more information on the campus consolidation proposal and will open the floor for questions, comments and concerns.

Previous to that, on Sunday, Aug. 14, the district will host local design professionals, contractors and suppliers at Pagosa Brewing Company between 4-7 p.m., soliciting ideas for facilities improvements or possible new construction.

As reported previously in The SUN, the district purchased land adjacent to the high school late last year with the intention of pursuing a consolidated campus — an area that would accommodate buildings for the elementary and middle schools in addition to the current high school. That campus would potentially integrate geothermal heating, as well as expanded recreational amenities for both area students and local residents.

The district claims that such a consolidated campus would not only provide greater safety for students — middle school students would no longer have to cross U.S. 160, loading and unloading students would no longer take place in high-traffic areas, lockdowns would be centralized — but would drive down transportation, utilities and administrative costs.

Furthermore, the district states that both the elementary and the grade 7-8 half of the middle school have reached a point of disrepair that new builds make more economic sense than sinking more dollars into ever-increasing maintenance requirements.

Critics maintain that the district does not need new schools and that the buildings in question are serviceable enough to last several more years. Additionally, those critics have said that an additional tax burden created by a school bond during tough economic times would inhibit local spending and, especially, business investment.

However, even if local voters approve November’s bond initiative, it will be several years (at least) before a consolidated campus is built.

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