Red Canyon awaits possible move |

Red Canyon awaits possible move

Scott N. Miller
Vail Daily/Shane Macomber Mandy Fisher,16, and Jessica Rivera, 16, of Red Canyon High School work on creating a memory book of the past school year, due to the lack of resources for a year book let alone a permanent location for their school, Friday in Eagle.

Students at Red Canyon High School aren’t all that picky about where they take classes. It’s how they take classes that’s important.

Still, a more formal home would be nice. The 30-plus students enrolled in the alternative high school in the eastern part of the valley attend classes at a facility near Berry Creek Middle School. But the 32 students at the Eagle campus have been taking classes in the basement of the local Methodist church. The lease on that space will expire at the end of this school year, leaving the school at loose ends for the moment.

The most likely home for the school is in the Colorado Mountain College building at the corner of Second and Broadway in Eagle. No final decisions have been made yet, but the governing boards of both the college and school district seem to be on track to forge some kind of deal for the building in the next few weeks.

The college board is expected to decide the fate of the building at its Monday meeting in Steamboat Springs. In anticipation of that meeting, the Eagle County School Board Wednesday discussed possible options for the site with local community college board member Doris Dewton and a handful of Eagle residents and town officials.

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Those options include the district purchasing the building from the college, leasing it, or finding another site somewhere else. While college President Bob Spuhler’s recommendation to the board is to lease the building to the school district, Dewton was particularly intrigued when school board President Scott Green suggested the college sell the building to the district at a discounted price. If the district decided to sell the building at market value in the future, the district would put money from that sale into construction of a new facility that would be shared with the college.

Staying in school

Ultimately, both students and district administrators believe building a brand-new school in the western end of the valley is the best option.

In fact, Red Canyon students in Eagle drew up plans for such a facility early this school year. Such a facility could cost as much as $1.4 million, though, and district officials would prefer to pay for a new school with a bond instead of from reserves. If the district started the process right away of designing a building and seeking bond approval from voters, a new school could be built in three years.

In the interim, though, Red Canyon needs a home.

“There’s so much pride here, it doesn’t really matter where we are, but the CMC building may be a more appropriate place,” junior Mandy Fischer said. No matter the location, students at the Eagle site agreed the school provides a valuable service.

Juan Marquez, who will graduate this year, has been a student at Red Canyon since his sophomore year. Working at Wylaco Supply in Gypsum, Marquez is able to take classes on a more relaxed schedule. “It suits me a lot better here,” he said.

Like all the other students at Red Canyon, Marquez had to apply to the school. Like other students, he’s graduating with good grades. And, like many, he said he probably wouldn’t be in school without the alternative program as an option. That also goes for Dan Shae, the freshman student said.

“I probably would have dropped out of Eagle Valley next year if I wasn’t here,” Shae said. Like Marquez, Shae said the more personalized learning style – small classes, on-line classes and as much individual attention as is needed – fits him better than the more structured environment at a conventional school.

Class cooperation

Shae said he doesn’t much care where he takes Red Canyon classes, as long as those classes are available. “It could be in a house,” he said. Still the idea of a new home has some appeal.

With no disrespect intended to the church, students said school can be interrupted by church functions from time to time, and the Sunshine Mountain Preschool kids upstairs often sound like a herd of ponies.

The church has offered the school a new lease, but district officials seem to be leaning toward a move. If the CMC building is the answer, though, it will probably be temporary.

School board members agreed that the CMC site would probably fit the school’s needs for a three- to seven-year period, but no longer.

Board member Keith Thompson lobbied for as short a stay as possible in a temporary home. “Let’s make a commitment to get this done as soon as possible,” he said.

Whatever happens, both school board members and Dewton said they want to ensure the district and the college cooperate on facilities and programs into the future. Green said the two agencies will be more effective working together.

“Without the district (CMC) may not have classes down here,” Green said. “Joint use helps both schools stay strong.”

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