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Changes coming, not new high school

Sydney Booth, Editor-in-chief

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AC, parking space, and addition in the works

It’s elbow to elbow in a sea of surging humanity during passing periods, and you’re either too hot or too cold in classes depending on the season. Meanwhile, you can’t find a place to park before school starts or if you leave school to get McDonalds during lunch. Although none of these issues will be addressed in the very near future, there are plans in place to overhaul the high school.

Superintendent Dr. Randy Miller presented a thorough discussion of potential changes at a community facilities meeting on Nov. 1, drawing 50 townspeople, including members of the school board, mayor Kevin Ross, principals, teachers, and parents. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the future of the school district in the midst of overcrowding in Eaton schools, and to convince stakeholders to pass a bond issue to fund much-needed buildings in order to uphold the standard of excellent education in the school district.    

Here at the HS

The issues addressed at the highschool level were the lack of classrooms, the parking nightmare, air conditioning, the size of the music room, the size of vocational (career-related) facilities, and improving security. A solution being explored to fix the size issue is trading the land at the Eaton Park for the current site where Eaton Elementary sits. This plan would be contingent on the town board’s willingness to “trade” these properties in order to expand the high school.

Expanding into the park would allow for expansion of the high school’s footprint, creating space for a Career Center, which would include space for a manufacturing and technology center for welding and construction, STEM classes, agriculture, and journalism. Five more classrooms would also be added to accommodate growth. This plan would eliminate both the current Ag Shop and bus barn; these areas will be used for more student parking space.  

The library and music rooms could also see changes. Miller said, “We’ve got a great music department, and all they’ve got is that little classroom at the very end. There’s discussion of taking the library and making that the music room and then taking that area by the 28 and 62 building and building back by those modulars to create a more centrally located library.”

Although current high school students will probably not get to see these changes, this plan will provide a more seamless campus for future students. Ideally, students will not need to walk outside to get to another class, greatly improving overall security. Miller also said that access to classes on the second floor of the 28 building for students who are on crutches or in wheelchairs is also in the works.

According to Miller, the upside to an extension as opposed to a $60 million new high school is that it would be more financially feasible, and would allow for the historic 28 building and gymnasium to be preserved.

BEES and EES

It’s no secret that storage closets are being turned into classrooms over at Eaton Elementary. Filled to the brim with students, EES needs more space. The problem with the land that EES sits on is that it is completely landlocked, surrounded by streets on all sides–one of those, CR 74, being the most highly-traveled road in Weld County.

One of the main options being explored is to create two K-5 schools by converting BEES and building a new school across highway 85 next to the golf course. BEES was originally built with an extension in mind and is completely studded out for another wing to be built. An upside to building another school on the other side of highway 85 is that traffic flow on highway 74 (Collins St.) would be greatly improved. If a new school were built, it would likely be surrounded by the recently approved Eaton Vista Acres subdivision (east of Hawkstone). The creation of these two new schools would also require redrawing boundaries. “Everything on the other side of 85–so Hawkstone, Eaton Commons, and a lot of those developments–would go to the new place,” Miller said. “You’d have to do a boundary line because we would actually have three K-5 schools with Galeton in play.”

The fate of Eaton Elementary if two K-5 schools came into play is undecided. It could be used as a pre-kindergarten facility, or if the land were swapped with the current park, the building could be demolished to make room for a new park.

Middle School

Over at Eaton Middle School, classrooms and air conditioning are needed, and almost everyone remembers the chaos that was every single band or choir concert. If your family didn’t get there an hour before, they would be forced to crowd into the cafeteria and stand with their backs against a wall to watch you perform. Increased seating and space for concerts is very much needed.

Some solutions discussed were creating a new music room and stage behind the gymnasium, and building a new auxiliary gym to the north for additional seating and events. The old band room could be turned into a choir room or additional lunch seating. Because EMS has plenty of land on which to expand, classrooms could also be added on the building’s south end to accommodate the influx of students.

Moving Forward

In a school board meeting on Dec. 11, the Eaton School District approved RB & B Architects for the Pre-Bond and Master Planning services. The company met with Principal Jay Tapia and athletic director Steve Longwell on Dec. 18.

Both a bond issue and Mill Levy Override will need to be passed on the ballot to meet the school district’s needs. Tapia said that the bond issue is used for construction projects, while the Mill Levy will be used to eliminate the $150 technology fee, pay staff wages, and other non-construction projects. The school district still has to pay off the remaining bond for BEES ($4,115,000). This means that the amount of bond available for the school district is $76,079,786. The school district can ask whatever amount for a Mill Levy; some overrides have a year limit, while some last forever.

Tapia said, “The growth that we are projecting is going to dome here and what makes our city so enticing to people is the businesses and the school system. It keeps housing costs at a good rate. If we want to continue to operate an excellent school system, we need to meet the needs of students.”

Miller encouraged anyone with questions to contact the Eaton School District Office at (970) 454-3402, or view the presentation online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAmnCcE2KSA &feature=youtu.be.  

 

Update (Dec.28): The next facilities committee meeting will be held at EMS on Jan. 24, 2108.

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