Board of Education approves purchase of Lone Tree facility
LONE TREE – The Douglas County School District Board of Education voted on Tuesday, January 17, to purchase a building in Lone Tree, which could one day become the home for the District Child Find and Bridge programs, as well as Eagle Academy, DCSD’s evening high school program. District leaders say the facility, which is centrally located, is an affordable way to address needs identified in the Master Capital Plan.
The property, located at 9350 Teddy Lane, is 26,000 square feet and is expected to cost the District $3.95 million dollars to purchase and an estimated $3 million to renovate. The $6.95 million dollars will be funded by a mixture of money set aside for the purchase of a K-8 special education facility and cash in lieu set aside from developers.
“Building a similar facility from scratch would double the cost,” said DCSD Director of Planning and Construction Rich Cosgrove. “This facility would meet our needs and is properly zoned.”
Currently, the Bridge North and Child Find North programs are located in leased properties, which cost the District $166,000 a year. Additionally, the Bridge North program will require an additional classroom next year, due to growth.
The Master Capital Plan also identifies the need for $29.3 million dollars for new construction in order to meet the needs of alternative secondary school students. Eagle Academy currently is hosted at Highlands Ranch High School, which has limited the school’s growth.
Finally, the building would provide shared spaces for conferences and training for the District’s teachers and support staff.
DCSD staff has conducted a thorough review of the facility and hosted a meeting with residents in the area. While the building passed due diligence for infrastructure and traffic issues, neighbors have voiced concerns regarding the placement of Eagle Academy at the facility, as well as any usage of the building for evening programs. A number of individuals from the Heritage Hills community shared their feelings with the Board, during public comment on January 17. CLICK HERE to watch the livestream of the meeting.
In response, Interim Superintendent Erin Kane and Eagle Academy Principal Jeff Broeker, as well as the school's staff and students committed to working closely with the community.
"I have read all the letters, I've heard all the feedback from Heritage Hills and I see the concerned residents here tonight. I want to commit to them that we will bend over backward to work together to be good neighbors," Kane said. "I know that the kids will commit to that. Jeff and his staff will commit to that."
"We are about being good neighbors," Broeker said. "I feel as good neighbors we could mitigate many of those things which were shared this evening in terms of privacy, in terms of our students and their whereabouts and how we will utilizing the facility."
"As a principal, my priority is the safety of our kids-- first and foremost. I think we do a pretty good job at Eagle Academy," Broeker added.
Currently, Eagle Academy utilizes classrooms in a wing of Highlands Ranch High School.
"We share every space," Broeker explained. "Most of the items that we utilize in our current location are mobile, which means that it creates set up issues, which takes away from instruction time and planning issues for my teachers."
Additionally, teachers are not able to make the space their own.
"Our teachers are limited in terms of how they can use the space they are in," Broeker said. "Our classrooms are oftentimes not thematic in terms of the content they're teaching."
"Over that time I have truly felt like a visitor. I don't really feel like I belong in that building, because it is Highlands Ranch," said Colby, an Eagle Academy student.
"When I first started at Eagle, I came in -- had to borrow a room, borrow resources and I felt like a visitor, in my own classroom," said Eagle Academy English Teacher Don Hoaglin. "If an adult is feeling that consider this -- what is a 16, 17, 18 or 19 year old student feeling as a perpetual visitor? By having our own site, we could do so many good and positive things."
The Board of Education voted 6-1 to approve the purchase of the property on January 17. District leadership is expected to work with Heritage Hills residents as it finalizes plans for the building.
Below is additional information about the programs being considered for the building:
DCSD's afternoon/evening high school dedicated to serving the needs of high school students seeking an alternative path to earning a high school diploma. Eagle Academy is committed to providing students with a multi-faceted relevant learning experience that nurtures confidence and facilitates exploration and self-discovery. Eagle Academy is focused on encouraging students to fulfill graduation requirements in an accelerated, academic, and supportive environment. This is accomplished by students, faculty, staff, parents and the community working together towards student success. Students must be between the ages of 16 and 20 and have attended their neighborhood school for at least one year. Eagle Academy students currently attend school Monday through Thursday from 3:10 p.m. to 9:01 p.m. and are encouraged to be employed (not required), involved in a vocational training program or volunteer regularly for a minimum of six hours a week. Smaller class sizes, personalized instruction and a family atmosphere are the hallmarks of the Eagle Academy community.
Teams (consisting of a DCSD psychologist, social worker, speech pathologist, and occupational therapist) administer developmental screenings and/or comprehensive evaluations for young children, who reside in Douglas County, from birth through age five. Any family who has concerns about their child can request an appointment. Additionally, teams work with a broad network of community partners and referral sources to identify any child suspected of having delays in development. All assessments are completed at no cost to the family, in a transdisciplinary model, in which the child is observed in play situations with structured and unstructured facilitation of sensorimotor, social-emotional, language and communication, and cognitive development.
An extension of Douglas County Schools transition services, the program serves students 18-21 years of age with significant support needs in the areas of adult living skills and vocational goals. Students qualifying for this program concentrate on preparing for adult living and working experiences.
DCSD intends to build a conference room for employees to attend meetings and participate in professional development.