Downvalley schools grow as others level out |

Downvalley schools grow as others level out

Daily Staff Report

New schools won’t be needed near Vail while we could need a new elementary near EagleBy Matt Terrellmterrell@vaildaily.comEAGLE COUNTY – As downvalley schools like Red Hill Elementary grow crowded and near capacity, student growth in a few upvalley schools has leveled out.Meadow Mountain Elementary, Minturn Middle School and Red Sandstone Elementary are running well below capacity these days. Years ago, Red Sandstone used to have more than 500 students – but after more and more families near Vail picked up and moved west, the school has closer to 230 students. Now, it’s highly unlikely we’ll need to build any new schools on the East end of the valley to accommodate more children, said Phil Onofrio, chief financial officer.”Our predictions go through 2013 right now – there will be plenty of space,” Onofrio said.The problem could be too much space. Sometime in the future parents will have to make some tough decisions about how important keeping those small upvalley schools are in relation to how much they cost to run, Onofrio said.”If they want to keep small schools, we can do that, but they’re economically inefficient, and they’re tough to program,” Onofrio said. “If we were to ever close one of those schools, we’ll have some upset citizens.”A big factor in the future of those schools could be what happens to the existing Battle Mountain High School building after students move into the new high school being built in Edwards. The school board recently formed a committee to find the best way to use the soon to be empty large building.The committee has already brainstormed a wide variety of ideas – it’s possible Battle Mountain could become a vocational school, a new site for the bus barn, a K-8 school, a new home for the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, or maybe it would be best to level it all.What the committee decides, and what the school board ultimately decides, could effect what the district ends up doing with those small schools in Eagle-Vail, Vail and Minturn.”This will be a community decision,” Onofrio said.Meanwhile, the valleys two newest schools, Red Hill Elementary and Brush Creek Elementary, are nearing capacity, a ballot question asking voters for a new west end school could be in the future.June Creek Elementary, the new school opening in Edwards this fall, is being built primarily to relieve crowding at Avon Elementary and Edward Elementary, which are both nearing capacity as well.Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or

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