School board will look into ’06 bond issue |

School board will look into ’06 bond issue

Scott N. Miller
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyThe school district was considering closing Meadow Mountain Elementary School in Eagle-Vail to make room for an expansion of Battle Mountain High School next door.

EAGLE – Meadow Mountain Elementary School has a few years left. Following a sometimes emotional hearing of more than two hours, the Eagle County School Board set a course to ask voters for a tax increse in the fall of 2006.That tax increase would fund, at least, a new high school, probably in Edwards. Bonds from the tax increase might also be used to expand or build a new high school for the western valley.The board decision also put off the prospect of closing Meadow Mountain Elementary School, at least for a few years. Board Members agreed that if a bond didn’t pass in 2006 or the next year, the district would have to put in place a plan that would expand Battle Mountain High School into the elementary school space, moving the younger children to other schools.Board Member Louise Funk and some Meadow Mountain parents urged the board to seek a tax increase this fall, saying momentum favors a vote this year.Other board members, though, said the district needs to present a better thought-out plan to voters. That, they said, will take more time.

“This is about being prepared, about doing our homework, and not looking like idiots to our shareholders,” Board Member Connie Kincaid-Strahan said.”The rest of the valley’s got to get on board with this,” Board Member mary Ann Stavney said.That might take some work.”I’ll be on the opposite side,” former School Board President Barb Schierkolk said of any effort to pass a bond this year. Schierkolk said her preference to building a new high school – which could cost as much as $60 million – would be to turn Meadow Mountain into a dedicated ninth-grade wing for high schoolers.At Wednesday’s meeting, though, parents – and board members – seemed to favor a new high school.Battle Mountain has been renovated four times since it was built in the early 1970s, and those renovations have created a lot of exits, and, for some, a long trip to classes.

“I can get into the building any time,” said teacher and girls soccer coach Dave Cope, who added that one of his disabled students faces two elevator rides and a trip on a hydraulic lift to get from one end of the school to another.But even if a bond passes next year, it would be the 2009-10 school year at the earliest before a new school opened.In the interim, the Meadow Mountain parents – who again made up the majority of the audience at Wednesday’s meeting – remain passionate about the future of the school.The board guaranteed the school would remain open through at least the 2005-06 school year when it passed a motion authorizing moving about 20 Meadow Mountain kids to Avon Elementary School. Those kids live in the Buffalo Ridge apartments, as well as a part of Miller Ranch in Edwards and the City Market area in Avon.Kincaid-Strahan and fellow board member Carri Tedstrom tried to ensure even more time for Meadow Mountain with a motion to only close the school if a bond wasn’t passed by 2007.That motion failed, but board members said they’d prefer to pass a bond issue before considering school closures and other options.

Some parents objected to any prospect of closing the school.But Meadow Mountain Principal Kim Walter left the room a happy administrator. “This buys us a lot of time,” she said.Staff writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, extension 613, or at smiller@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado

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