The superintendent of the Jefferson County (Colo.) district has proposed tearing down Columbine High School and building a new school nearby.
The Denver Post reports that Superintendent Jason Glass, in a letter to Columbine families and staff members, said that recent school shootings and a continuing “morbid fascination” with Columbine are reasons for replacing the facility.
“The tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 serves as a point of origin for this contagion of school shootings,” Glass said. “School shooters refer to and study the Columbine shooting as a macabre source of inspiration and motivation.”
Thirteen people were killed and 24 were wounded at Columbine when two student unleashed a shooting attack at the school on April 20, 1999.
Among the proposals for Columbine High School being discussed:
- The school name, colors and mascot would be unchanged.
- The new facility would be built near the existing site, to the west.
- Consideration would be given to preserving the Hope Library, making it the cornerstone of the new building.
- The existing building would be demolished and replaced with fields s.
Frank DeAngelis, who was Columbine principal at the time of the shootings, says Glass talked to him and others about the proposal before making it public.
“You look at what has happened, nationally and internationally, and there are still references to Columbine,” DeAngelis says. “I don’t think anyone 20 years ago anticipated that in 2019 we’d be talking about this fascination with Columbine High School.”
DeAngelis said he supports the proposal.
The district’s announcement about plans for Columbine included a link to a survey seeking feedback about plans for a new building.
The district envisions asking voters for $60 million to $70 million to construct a new school. A $15 million expansion and renovation of the existing school is part of a bond program approved by voters in 2018. Glass says the money already approved could be part of a construction package, if approved, or it could be distributed to other Jeffco schools to pay for enhanced safety features.
Recently, as the 20th anniversary of the attack approached and passed, local law enforcement made contact with “hundreds of individuals seeking to enter the school and reconnect with the 1999 murders,” Glass says. “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.”
Columbine uses a sophisticated surveillance and security system, making it among the safest schools in the country, Glass says.