Open Letter to Poudre School District regarding the lack of a high school in Wellington

Editor:

My name is Chad Zadina and I am the owner/veterinarian at Tabby Road Animal Hospital in Wellington. My wife and I have resided in this area for over ten years and we recently made the decision to build a new practice and invest our family’s future into this community. In part, our decision was based on the rapid growth that our little town has been experiencing as well as its potential to transition from a small bedroom community to a proper town with its own identity.

As a parent and business owner, I am very concerned about Poudre School District’s lack of interest with regard to the possibility of our community being a candidate for a new high school. While I do appreciate district personnel taking the time a few months back to discuss Poudre School District’s ten year plan with us, I feel that it has become evident that the school district has no intention of building a high school in this community. While I know funding is always an issue, I feel that the citizens of Wellington deserve as much consideration as any other community.

As a small business owner, our success depends on the success of the community around us. While Wellington is growing by leaps and bounds, I believe that it cannot reach its full potential without having a local High School. In addition, I pay a large amount of my money in property taxes not only for my business but for my home.

I was born and raised in rural Nebraska in a town of around 5,000 people. Ogallala High School was the center of our town and something that bound our community together with the unseen strings of school pride and the camaraderie that goes along with it. In my home area, dying communities lost their high schools to consolidation — often the final nail in their coffin as a viable community.

As you are likely aware, current statistics indicate that our community is projected to reach a population of 10,000 by the end of the decade. In my mind it is ludicrous to have a community of 10,000 people without a high school. That alone should place Wellington front and center for consideration. Yet, instead, it appears the school board has been utilizing outdated statistics and turning a blind eye towards our community concerning future building plans.
Although our high school students are able to attend Poudre High School, there are many reasons why this is untenable in the long run:

1. As mentioned above, first and foremost is community pride — Friday night lights, basketball games, track meets, debate team, school bands, state championships, proms and homecomings. These experiences not only help to generate revenue for local businesses by drawing people to the area and encouraging families to settle here, but also promote camaraderie, pride and a sense of community within a small town. In its current state, our community will never experience these events directly. You don’t see signs hanging in Wellington saying “Home of the Poudre Impalas- 2014 State Basketball Champions.” There is simply less community interest and “ownership” of a high school that is located 20 miles away in an adjacent town. In addition, there is a great amount of pride that attributed to communities concerning their high schools and their accomplishments – as the kids attending those schools are a direct product of their towns.

2. Effect of “commuting” on growth potential — As was noted at the last community meeting in Wellington, there seems to be a mass exodus of families with children of high school age. As you are likely well aware, extra-curricular activity participation peaks in high school, with students involved in sports, music and drama. It is logical to assume that the only viable reason so many families with high-school age kids move out of our community is to be closer to their children’s school and activities.

3. Local business income and supporting local businesses — A large amount of consumer spending — is sent to Fort Collins as a direct result of being forced to drive 20 miles to their kids’ activities. Most of these families are shopping and eating in Fort Collins before and after school activities, rather than in Wellington. Our community and its businesses would greatly benefit by retaining those more mature families and their associated larger income and spending potential. In addition, by keeping consumer spending in town, it will encourage new businesses to come to Wellington and add to our town’s growth.

4. Commuting — I live north of town and routinely see children being picked up at 6:30 a.m. to begin their journey to town and then not returning until later that evening. Each child riding the school bus that lives in Wellington spends at least two hours a day on a bus going to and from school. Not only is this a burdensome and excessive amount of time spent commuting, it also takes away from time children can spend with their families and friends.

5. Overcrowded schools — Many people move to a smaller town so that their child can attend smaller schools. From what my clients with high school age kids are telling me, Poudre High School is quite overcrowded with a relatively large student population.

6. New jobs — Schools require a large amount of associated staff which would likely relocate to Wellington, further encouraging town growth.

These are just a few of the reasons why having a high school in Wellington would significantly benefit its citizens. As citizens, we deserve to have our tax dollars remain at home and benefit our community. Our population base is large enough at this point to support a Wellington High School. I hope that you will see the wisdom and practicality in establishing a local high school and reconsider our request.

Chad Zadina, DVM
Wellington

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