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El Paso County Colorado District 49

D 49/city talk growth and site annexation

In January, School District 49 administrators and the mayor and vice mayor of Colorado Springs, Lionel Rivera and Larry Small, respectively; and City Council members Randy Purvis and Bernie Herpin met at Skyview Middle School to discuss issues affecting the school district. County Commissioner Douglas Bruce attended the meeting as well.D 49 Superintendent Nancy Wright began the meeting with a brief history of the district and then presented the current challenges the district faces because of its rate of growth ñ 10 percent annually. Henry Reitwiesner, D 49ís head of construction and long-range planning, talked about the impact of growth on the district.Reitwiesner said, given the projections, the district will need to build one elementary school per year, a middle school every two years and another high school over the next six years ñ all in addition to the two high schools currently under construction.D 49 Chief Financial Officer Laine Gibson spoke about the lack of financial support from the state. The district receives $5,987 each for 11,581 students. Gibson said the per-student dollar amount is determined after the state deducts other school revenues like property taxes. Bruce, noting that the large district runs north to the county line, asked if it was possible for another district to assume the most northern part of D 49.Reitwiesner said a change in the district boundaries would require a public vote. He said getting approval in both districts is highly unlikely.Jim Walsh, construction manager, described the new finished school buildings and those under construction. The elementary schools were built using a prototype that called for construction and operation efficiency. The new Falcon High School is under construction, and high school No. 3 ñ yet unnamed – is over budget because of increased construction costs and on-site problems.Walsh said concrete, steel and copper costs have greatly increased since the mil levy was passed in November 2005.In addition, illegal dumping occurred on the high school No. 3 site contaminating 4.3 acres. The school is scheduled to open in August 2008 with a revised site plan for 900 students.The big issue between the city and the district is the annexation of the site. D 49 officials want the city to annex the site to provide utilities to the school. In turn, city officials want the district to commit to building an addition to Black Forest Road ñ at a cost of $2 million. Walsh referred to the request as ìthe road to nowhereî and Reitwiesner said, ìThe district is in the business of educating children ñ not road construction.îRivera promised his support and said a pre-annexation agreement can be negotiated, but the district will have to work with the planning commission and then go before City Council.Dave Martin, president of the D 49 board of education, said the board is willing to do whatever is necessary to improve the district. Bruce said additional costs should be applied to new-home construction. He said it wasnít reasonable to expect long-term residents to pay for newcomers. Martin said developers have already contributed more than $17 million to the district, and the Falcon Community Builders for Classrooms is collecting $1,500 per home permit. ìWe canít ask for everything from the developers,î he added.Rivera encouraged the district to continue to update city officials and attend council meetings. He also said the city and the district need to meet more than twice a year.

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