Letter: Selling Grand Lake’s school would be big mistake
Ryan Summerlin May 13, 2014
To the Editor:
This letter addresses the possible sale of Grand Lake Elementary School to the Town of Grand Lake and why the sale would not be in the best interests of the District.
As principal at Granby Elementary School from 1981-1990, including being the principal at Grand Lake Elementary School for two years (1982-1984), and as Superintendent in the East Grand School District from 1996-2008, Grand Lake Elementary was a valuable part of the District. The enrollment stayed around 100 students until the mid-2000s. With fewer jobs and high real estate prices, the school-age population declined, forcing the Board to make the financial decision to close the building in 2011. There were conversations in 2006-08 about turning the school into a “magnet” school to attract students. Ideas included capitalizing on outstanding features of the community, mainly Rocky Mountain National Park (an outdoor education/environmental focus) or the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre (a school of the arts, focusing on dramatics). The ideas did not come to fruition at that time, primarily due to declining enrollment throughout the District. Enrollment is rebounding, and the ideas still seem viable.
When the current building opened in 1979, it was the result of the entire District approving a bond issue for it and other District buildngs; something for everyone. The school enhanced the sense of community in Grand Lake. If the school is sold to the Town of Grand Lake, I do not see the possibility of having a school in the community again, regardless of enrollment increases. There is not another viable site, nor do I see the rest of the District supporting a bond issue to build a school in Grand Lake again. Grand Lake deserves a school when the student population can support one.
The building should be used a community resource, with a cooperative agreement between the Town of Grand Lake and the School District on the use and cost sharing. Similar agreements have existed with the School District and the Town of Granby (previous skate park and current soccer dome/tennis courts), the Town of Fraser (bus garage), and even the Town of Grand Lake for the modular building on the school site, which has served as a preschool in the past.
The School Board should consider all the ramifications of selling the building, potential partnerships and uses, and what would be in the best interest of the entire District.