PUEBLO – Wednesday night’s gathering at Centennial High School was the first of four public meetings to address a crisis in Pueblo City Schools and discuss all the options.
One of those options is to close schools in D60 if upgrades to aging buildings are not addressed soon. It’s a major problem and it’s costly.
D60 faces nearly $800 million worth of repairs. MOA Architecture, the team working on D60’s Master Plan, is not presenting any specific options for closures at this time. However, knowing it’s a possibility is something community members are finding hard to swallow.
“It’s an emotional issue for a lot of people,” said Helena Atlas-Acuna. She’s a grandparent to D60 students and a retired teacher in the district.
“The folks giving the presentation painted a pretty dire picture of the facilities.”
According to MOA Architecture, 14 out of the 30 district schools are in critical or very poor condition. 80 percent of the schools are more than 50 years old.
Jack Mousseau, community process facilitator and education planner for the company, said, “The issue is if we don’t start doing some of these schools are going to close themselves. Electrical system’s going to fail, a roof’s going to fail.”
On top of that, the team said schools are being underutilized. District enrollment has also fallen over the last five years.
Mousseau said, “If we were to bring those schools to the equivalent of a new school constructed we would be paying $784 million dollars in your district to do that.”
Spending that much money won’t happen so some of the options being considered are consolidation of schools, construction of new schools, renovations, and school closures.
Atlas-Acuna said, “I had been like most people, very emotional about tradition and we’ve got to keep all our schools, but when you look at all the statistics they presented something dire must be done because it’s not safe.”
She said whatever the needs are should be paid for by any means possible.
“Our kids deserve the best that the city schools have to offer…if that means floating the bond issue, yes, we must do that.”
Mousseau said any solution to this will mean making some hard decisions. The team will be meeting with the public again in January to share more options and work together to decide what’s best for Pueblo City Schools.
D60 said the entire presentation will be on the Pueblo City Schools website.
If you missed Wednesday’s presentation there are three other meetings you can attend. The presentation will be the same at each location and will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
November 29 – Central High School
December 18 – East High School
December 19 – South High School