PART TWO: Plenty of opinions on whether to expand Windsor High School or build a new school in Severance
April 24, 2014
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second of a two-part series on the possibility of building a new high school in Severance or expanding Windsor High School. This week's focus is on reaction from parents, a student and principal at Windsor High School and a Severance community member who doesn't have any children in the district.
Wil Dressor doesn't like the idea of splitting up the students at Windsor High School.
Dressor, a senior and the co-president of the student body, will be long gone if a new high school is constructed in Severance or if the current high school is expanded.
Dressor hopes the latter happens. He wrote a letter to the board of education to consider the students' opinions regarding the high school issue.
"Our thinking is that the people who it affects most is the students, so we want to have a voice in it," Dressor said. "I think our voices need to be heard. We're going to be gone, but we want to help out those kids who will be going through the situation."
Dressor said the students' main concern is how a new school would impact the community.
"All the kids would want to go to this brand new nice school, and how would it affect Windsor?" Dressor asked. "We just have so much rich tradition, and it's always been a one-school community that everyone supports. Everyone would be split up."
Dressor would like to see an addition to Windsor High School.
"That way you get to keep a school that has such strong community and is good in everything and you allow that to keep growing and becoming even better in athletics and academics and music," he said. "We can all stay as one community as Windsor and be a powerhouse."
Dressor said the majority of students want to keep it one school.
"Everyone just loves Windsor so much and the whole community aspect that it's kind of hard hearing that they'd build another school," Dressor said.
Concerns of diluting and reducing the talent pool of students, fewer academic programs, the school vs. school rivalry, sports programs being watered down, students' fundraising efforts for two schools instead of one and whether needs will be overlooked at the current Windsor High School if a new school in Severance is built will be discussed.
Nearly 80 community members and parents met with the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District board of education and Superintendent Karen Trusler on April 7 to discuss the issue.
What came out of that meeting is that three sub-committees were formed and will focus on programming, facility options of what a new high school would look like and finally the pros and cons of one large high school compared to two smaller high schools. They'll take that research and information back to the school board in December, which will make a decision on whether to set up a bond election in 2015 or 2016.
The district's last bond election was in 2007 for an addition to Grandview Elementary School, the building of Range View Elementary School in Severance and the building of Severance Middle School. The amount was for $41.5 million, and it was the largest bond issue to date.
The district owns 236 acres of land in Severance, located northeast of Severance Middle School, that is reserved for a possible new high school. The estimated cost to build a new 160,000 square-foot high school (800-900 students for phase 1 with a capacity of 1,250 students) is $36 million, plus another $2 million for infrastructure such as utilities and streets.
Travis Guerette of Severance, who has a son in fourth grade at Range View Elementary School, is in favor of building a new high school in Severance.
"That would be great. It's a huge thing for the Severance community," Guerette said.
Vicki Larson, a 17-year Severance resident, isn't too excited about a new high school in her hometown.
"Selfishly, I do not want that high school out here. It will be a huge impact. The road is just full with traffic now with the middle school, so when you add a high school out here in this area, for us the impact will be great," said Larson, who doesn't have any children in the school district. "That's our concern. I want to see what facts they produce. Thirty-eight million dollars is a huge amount. I realize they have a limited space there (at the current location), but I hope that they really are honestly looking to see if there's anything they can do within the regular high school."
Linda Tomberlin, who has one son who graduated from Windsor High School and a daughter and son currently at the high school, said the school district worked hard to make Severance Middle School a different type of middle school and she thinks the same could be done with a new high school in Severance.
"I think it will take a little bit of adjustment, but Loveland was that same way years ago with only Loveland High School and then it got Thompson Valley and Mountain View," Tomberlin said. "There is a concern because we're not that big of a town. I think it will be a struggle a little bit and it will be a little bit of a learning curve, but based on the success of Severance Middle School it can be done."
Windsor High School Principal Michelle Scallon helped open Northridge High School in Greeley in 2000, so she knows the positives and negatives in opening a new school.
"I would say to make sure the community has a voice in the process, because truly a school is a community project and a school is nothing without our community," Scallon said. "I really encourage the community to step up and be a part of this process. Hopefully, we'll always remember the most important factor is the success of our students. Putting our own preferences aside, what's best for our kids is what matters."