A high school for Wellington?

There will be a significant vote on Aug. 9, at the first meeting of the 2016-17 school year for the Poudre School District Board of Trustees. Board members are likely to put their stamp of approval on the district’s carefully crafted long-range plan prioritizing facility needs.

The board adopted a resolution statement on April 26 approving of the plan. At their August meeting, they will signal final approval. Well more than two years of analyzing the needs of the growing school district, planning, designing and seeking the engagement of the community, have gone into formulating the plan to address the district’s facility needs through 2022.

Rapid growth in the southeast and northern regions of the district influenced the plan recommendations which include $313 million for new construction and $40 million for existing facility improvements between now and 2022. The projects will be financed by a bond issue to be voted on by all voters in the school district in November 2016.

New construction will consist of a middle school/high school at the corner of Prospect Road and Interstate 25, a middle school/high school in or near Wellington, an elementary school in southeast Fort Collins east of I-25, a permanent addition to Zach Elementary School to replace modular buildings, an athletic complex at the Prospect Road school site, and a transportation maintenance facility at the district’s north terminal. In five to 10t years the middle school/high schools are expected to reach capacity and convert to high schools, creating a need for new middle schools.

Pete Hall, executive director of operations for Poudre School District, points out that the result of the school bond issue will have an effect on everyone living in the district. “I’m very optimistic,” he said, pointing to the past response to bond issues and the community’s commitment to every aspect of quality education.

Should the bond issue fail, a “plan B” has been developed. It would require additional modular classrooms, more restrictions on school-choice options, possibly larger class sizes and boundary modifications. The community will feel pressure as schools become more crowded and additional transportation is needed.

Hall said that today all the district’s high schools are considered full, defined as at least 94 percent of capacity. For the last several years, population in the district has been rising by 2 percent — 400 to 500 students per year — or about the size of an elementary school. That rate of growth is expected to continue for many years to come.

In the state of Colorado, seeking education funding from the general fund is challenging according to Hall, making bond issues a reasonable way to secure needed funds for expansion and maintenance.

In order to learn more about the proposed indebtedness bond those interested are encouraged to see the district website at psdschools.org. At the home page under “focus projects” on the right side of the page, click on the second tab, “long range facility plan.” communications director Danielle Clark and executive director of finance, Dave Montoya also are available to answer questions.

“It has taken lots of work from lots of people to reach this point,” Hall said. “I’m appreciative of the joint effort.”

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