Mountain Middle School, which has reached its maximum enrollment of 240 students for the past decade, has begun preliminary planning for a 7,000-square-foot classrooms addition.
Head of School Shane Voss said the addition is dependent on voter approval of a planned request for between $90 million and $120 million of new bonds from Durango School District 9-R, but the timing of when 9-R will go to voters has not yet been determined. The district could make the request this November or wait until November of 2021.
The expansion, Voss estimated, would allow Mountain Middle to boost enrollment by 50 to 60 students. The school serves grades four to eight.
“We’ve gone to a lottery 10 straight years in a row for all grades at Mountain Middle School, and we’ve consistently been the highest performing public school in the Durango area. And our enrollment numbers just continue to climb each year,” Voss said.
He added: “Basically, we can’t meet the demand with our current classroom space. So we need to provide more and more space and more seats.”
Demand for spots at Mountain Middle has only increased with the school providing a weighted lottery for students who are eligible for free and reduced lunches. Those students get two entries in the lottery instead of one.
“So the numbers of families wanting in this way is out-numbering the number of seats available in every grade level,” Voss said.
Details such as cost figures, design elements and timelines for the expansion are being determined, Voss said, but he anticipates Mountain Middle will have to match 80% of the funding provided for the classrooms addition should voters eventually approve issuance of new bonds.
The addition would be located just south of the current school on property Mountain Middle has already purchased.
Voss said Durango School District 9-R would be the first school district in the state to include funding for charter schools in a bond question. 9-R already is the first school district in the state to include a charter school with additional funding in a mill levy question in 2016, when voters approved a $1.7 million mill levy override.
“9-R and Dan Snowberger have been fantastic supporters of high-quality education and our goal at Mountain Middle School has always been: We’re one community with one goal, and that’s providing excellence and choice in education for all students in Durango,” Voss said.
Teachers will lead design elements for the interior of the classrooms addition, Voss said, and those details should be worked out in the coming months.
He said the adaptations of workflow to meet demands placed on schools by COVID-19 restrictions has temporarily delayed planning for the addition.
“No one really anticipated we would have to respond to a pandemic, and that has kind of taken everybody on a detour. We would like to be having these discussions (about details of the classrooms addition) right now, but everything’s on hold. I just want to emphasize that we’re in very preliminary stages of planning,” Voss said.