Science labs that are straight out of the 1960s, roofs that need to be replaced, and an old and leaky swimming pool that gets heavy use by both students and the public for swim teams and swimming lessons.
Those are just a few of the things members of the Cherry Creek Schools Long Range Facility Planning Committee (LRFPC) saw when they toured Cherry Creek High School in February.
“You get a better appreciation of the needs when you see them first hand,” said Bill Van Patten, a member of the LRFPC for the past four years.
The LRFPC is currently working on the Five Year Facility Needs Plan, which identifies facility needs throughout the district. It will be presented to the Board of Education at the board meeting on March 12.
With a reputation as one of the best high schools in the state, Cherry Creek is also the largest in terms of enrollment, serving more than 3,400 students. It’s also the oldest high school in the Cherry Creek School District, built in 1953.
“The last major renovation here was in 1998 when sections of the roof were replaced” said Mike Langlett, Executive Director of Educational Support Services for Cherry Creek Schools, who led the tour. “We need to replace the roofs on the East, West, Fine Arts and IC buildings, and upgrade the security cameras and fire and safety systems.”
“We also need to bring our science classrooms into the 21st century,” added CCHS Principal Ryan Silva, as he showed the group the school’s outdated science labs.
LRFPC is a citizens advisory group, established by the Cherry Creek Schools Board of Education more than 30 years ago. It is made up of district residents and employees who advise the board on facility utilization including construction, renovation, boundary and calendar issues. The committee is responsible for making sure new schools are built just when they’re needed to handle student growth, and ensuring that existing schools are maintained and improved to protect the investment Cherry Creek taxpayers have made in them.
“If you don’t maintain things, the need just gets worse,” said Van Patten. “You can only put it off for so long. But we know we can’t fix it all at once, so we have to prioritize.”
That’s a huge job, considering that the district serves more than 50,000 students in 6.3 million square feet of space in 60 schools on 1,200 acres spread out over 108 square miles.