June 12--GILCREST -- Amanda Owens has just one concern with a proposed bond issue for the Valley Re-1 School District -- it's not happening fast enough.
"I am so excited to think this could be an opportunity for this district," Owens said when she compared what district officials want to do in the tri-towns that make up Re-1 with the opportunities already available at Poudre High School in Fort Collins. "They are fantastic programs and opportunities for our students that are out of this world. The only problem with it is I want it to happen earlier. My daughter graduates in 2019, and I want her to be able to take advantage of it. This could put us on the map."
Owens' excitement over proposed changes in the school district that encompasses LaSalle, Gilcrest and Platteville was echoed by just about everyone in the room at Valley High School on Wednesday evening.
The school district is considering asking voters for a $75 million bond issue in November that would make sweeping changes to the district. Plans include everything from new or upgraded athletic facilities to future facility needs for educational programming.
Gilcrest Elementary would become an early childhood education center and adult learning facility. A new building on the same site would be the district's junior high school for seventh and eighth graders. It would house a career technology program.
Pete Mirich Elementary School in LaSalle and Platteville Elementary would become primary schools for grades kindergarten through third. What is now South Valley and North Valley middle schools would house fourth, fifth and sixth grades. The high school career tech program would be changed to become a full STEM program (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
A new baseball and softball facility would be built north of the district's administration building off U.S. 85 and Weld County Road 42. Artificial turf is planned to replace the existing football/soccer facility as well as a new track surface. If there is enough money, a practice facility, playground and pavilion also would be built be north of the football field near the administration office. New athletic facilities would be ready for play in the 2015-2016 school year.
Several dozen residents attended the meeting to hear the plans that would phase in changes over a one-two year period beginning in 2016.
The bond would cost residents $4.41 per year on every $100,000 of assessed value of each home for 15 years, with an optional eight-year prepayment plan. The district wants to jump on the opportunity now while the oil and gas industry in the area is still booming. Oil and gas pays about 80 percent of the taxes in the Re-1 school district right now.
There were some concerns brought up, including preschool children in the same vicinity as high schoolers, the chance that a fracking ban being placed on the November ballot could halt the revenue stream the district is currently enjoying and transportation issues for families with children in multiple grade levels.
Superintendent Jo Barbie, administrators, board members and architects addressed the issues by assuring residents the district will look at transportation plans, the unlikeliness that Weld County would ever ban fracking and the fact that Gilcrest Elementary School is already home to a pre-K through fifth-grade school next door to Valley High School.
"We are trying to keep our kids here," said Ken Garcia, an Re-1 board member. "Parents will drive 50 miles to get the best education for their kids. At what point do you not invest in what's best for the kids? Without this our community will die. The way things are going there are too many opportunities around us."
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