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ColumbineHigh.jpg Jefferson County (Colo.) Public Schools

Columbine High will not be torn down

Jefferson County (Colo.) district leaders were weighing the pros and cons of razing the school because of the "morbid fascination" with the 1999 shooting deaths there.

Columbine High School will not be torn down.

The Denver Post reports that Jefferson County (Colo.) School Superintendent Jason Glass has announced in a letter to the community that a proposal discussed in recent weeks to tear down and rebuild the school will not go forward.

Glass had raised the possibility of razing the campus because of he ongoing morbid fascination with the 1999 shooting attack in which 13 were killed and 24 wounded 

Instead of tearing down the school building, the district will add a clearer perimeter around the school to prevent intrusions and find other ways to improve security.

“While final plans have yet to be determined, it is our goal to create a classic and stately appearance for the school that the community will be proud of,” he said.

Glass says a survey the district had sent out and comments on social media and elsewhere indicated the community didn’t support razing the school.

“The ensuing discussion both locally and joined by those around the country was emotional and complex and I want to express my appreciation and gratitude for the honest, respectful and civil way these discussions took place in the Columbine and larger Jeffco communities,” Glass says. “While this concept has supporters and merits, there are also valid concerns that were raised. It is clear to me that no consensus direction exists to rebuild the school.”

A summary of the survey data showed 57% of the nearly 7,000 people who responded said they had a negative opinion of tearing down the school, while about 40% had a positive opinion. When asked to rank preferences, respondents said demolishing the school was the least-loved option.

When asked if they would vote to provide funding to build a new school, 44% said they definitely would vote no, and another 15% were leaning toward no. It's not clear whether all the survey takers lived in Jefferson County and would be eligible to vote, but the answer suggested that passing any ballot question would have been difficult.

About 2,400 people who weren’t authorized to be at Columbine stopped by the school in the most recent school year, which coincided with the 20th anniversary of the shootings, Glass said. The most prominent was a Florida woman, said to be obsessed with the Columbine killers, who triggered a massive manhunt that closed hundreds of schools in the area.

Columbine High is scheduled to get about $15 million in upgrades, paid for with bonds approved by voters in 2018. 

The planned upgrades will go forward, and the district will pay for the perimeter work with other funds, Glass says.

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