District Superintendent Proposes Demolishing, Rebuilding Columbine High School

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Columbine High School would be torn down and a new school built nearby under a proposal the Jefferson County School District announced Thursday that is driven by the ongoing fascination of the 1999 school shooting there.

In a letter to Columbine families and staff, district Superintendent Jason Glass said Thursday that recent school shootings and a continuing “morbid fascination” with Columbine, as demonstrated by Sol Pais, the Florida teen who made her way to Colorado before taking her own life, is contributing to a need for a new building and school.

The tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 serves as a point of origin for this contagion of school shootings,” Glass said in the letter. “School shooters refer to and study the Columbine shooting as a macabre source of inspiration and motivation.”

Proposals for Columbine High School include:

• The current school mascot and colors would be unchanged.

• Construct the new school near the current location, west of the current site.

• Consider preserving the Hope Library, making it the cornerstone of the new building.

• The existing building would be demolished, replaced with fields, and controlled entry points.

The district envisions asking voters for $60 to $70 million to construct a new school. A $15 million expansion and renovation of the current school is part of the 5B Bond Program approved by voters in 2018. Glass said the already approved money could be part of a construction package, if approved, or it could be distributed to other JeffCo schools to fund enhanced safety features.

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Recently, as the 20th Anniversary—April 20—of Columbine approached and passed, local law enforcement made contact with “hundreds of individuals seeking to enter the school and reconnect with the 1999 murders,” Glass said. “Most of them are there to satisfy curiosity or a macabre, but harmless, interest in the school. For a small group of others, there is a potential intent to do harm.”

The current school uses a sophisticated surveillance and security system, making it among the safest schools in the country, Glass said.

Schools officials are in the preliminary and exploratory stages, Glass said, and the district is seeking community feedback on the proposal.

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