Vail Daily column: Schools ready for upgrade
September 28, 2016
My future wife came to Eagle in 1995 for a job at Eagle Valley Middle School and brought me with her. From that starting point, we have been honored to serve this community for most of our adult lives as it has transformed into an amazing, unique place to live.
Eagle Valley Elementary and Middle Schools on Third Street, built in 1973 and 1979, fit the smaller, quieter Eagle that we arrived to in 1995, when cows were still driven through town to pastures on Castle Peak, and Broadway was empty after 5 p.m. and weekends. There were no stoplights or City Market.
My wife's last day teaching on Third Street was in 1999, the day before summer break when our son, who is now 17, was born. The town board, on which I was a super-junior trustee, had been meeting weekly with Eagle Ranch, Adam's Rib and other eager developers. By then, Eagle already had a stoplight. City Market was open.
Eagle Ranch alone forever changed expectations about public facilities with Brush Creek park, a golf course, pavilion, miles of paved paths, a medical campus, a new commercial district — and the first roundabout. It also brought a wave of people who brought with them different expectations about schools and community amenities. The new elementary school in Eagle Ranch set off a fevered redistricting rush with parents jockeying to be in the new school boundary — instead of Third Street.
I was fortunate to be an active part of major reinvestment in Eagle through the 2000s, when Eagle built a town hall to anchor Broadway, a pool and ice facility to replace the pool at the middle school, and eventually a wastewater plant to prepare for growth. Eagle remodeled Broadway adding streetscape and remodeled town park, adding the concert stage. All told, including the 2015 Eby Creek road project, well more than $90 million in public dollars —mostly local — and more than $100 million in Eagle Ranch Metro District dollars have been invested or reinvested in infrastructure and amenities to keep up with growth and with evolving public expectations from then to now. At Third Street schools, not so much.
Midpoint of the growth period is when the last school bond passed, replacing dilapidated schools up-valley with the Miller Ranch Campus, and building desperately needed new schools in Gypsum. This extended the capacity of Third Street and provided stunning modern school facilities in Edwards and Gypsum. Suddenly, Third Street felt even further behind the times.
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In spite of all the change around it, walking through the halls on Third Street, one would be forgiven for believing that education itself had not changed since 1973.
We are proud parents of Third Street graduates, and this commentary should not be taken as offence to staff. Still, it is awkward truth that the appearance of Third Street has caused many families who excitedly moved to Eagle with young children because of the rest of what they saw invested in this community to eventually leak back upvalley in part because of school facilities. With them goes significant momentum, income and opportunities to continue building community in Eagle. It is very much time for voters, especially in Eagle, to vote for the kind of transformational community asset on Third Street that the Miller Ranch campus provided for the midvalley a decade ago.
Please vote "yes" for modern, safe schools, and for your community future. Believe me, It's not just about the kids.
Jon Stavney is a former trustee, mayor, county commissioner and town manager in Eagle.
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