JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — The Jefferson County School District has decided against the demolition and replacement of Columbine High School, according to a letter sent to parents by the district superintendent.
“While this concept has supporters and merits, there are also valid concerns that were raised,” Superintendent Jason E. Glass wrote in the letter. "It is clear to me that no consensus direction exists to rebuild the school.”
In June, Glass sent a letter parents outlining the possibility of demolishing the school and replacing it with a new building. More than 7,000 people responded to a survey from the district about the possible demolition. Since the school shooting in 1999 that killed 13 people, "morbid fascination" with the school has been increasing, according to the district.
"While Columbine High School is now arguably one of the safest schools in the world, the “unauthorized individuals” problem at the school must be addressed," the letter continues.
"We have a lot of tourists who come by to see what they saw on tv several years ago," said Principal Scott Christy. "What they don’t know, or don’t pay attention to is, we're a functioning school. We have 1700 kids here and we have to [treat] everyone whose not to be here as a potential threat. It becomes a burden and tiresome on my staff."
Feedback about the school's future came to the district through many forms, including the survey sent out this summer.
Of the 6,992 respondents, the district said:
- 57% had a negative initial reaction to the proposal
- 55% said it wasn't important to replace the school
- Almost 60% said they would likely vote no if a request for bond dollars was placed on a ballot
"There’s an emotional attachment to this school, which I really appreciate," Christy said. "The level of emotion and passion in discussions about this issue just reaffirmed to me how much our community loves our school."
Instead of rebuilding, the school will be implementing changes aimed at enhancing security and privacy around the school, including the creation of a defined perimeter around the building, the letter from Superintendent Glass said.
“The proposal to rebuild the school wasn’t supported," he said by phone Wednesday. "But we did find a lot of support for doing something to better secure the school against these unauthorized individuals. That’s what we're going to do.”
In his letter to the school community, he wrote:
"While final plans have yet to be determined, it is our goal to create a classic and stately appearance for the school that the community will be proud of," the letter says. "The school already has an existing “Design Advisory Group” working on planned improvements as part of the 5B bond program, and we will use these individuals to advise us on creating the perimeter and other security and privacy enhancements."
The letter says the security enhancements will be funded from existing resources within the district's capital funds.
“The ensuing discussion both locally and joined by those around the country was emotional and complex and I want to express my appreciation and gratitude for the honest, respectful, and civil way these discussions took place in the Columbine and larger Jeffco communities.”
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