Durango School District 9-R administrators are looking at two land deals that would increase district independence and smooth the operation of two campuses.
The sale of a half-acre owned by the district at the end of Baker Lane would pave the way for the city of Durango to annex Escalante Middle School just east of Walmart in unincorporated La Plata County.
Once within city limits, the school would receive city services and would qualify for a school resource officer from Durango Police Department.
Currently, a lone sheriff’s deputy serves as school-resource officer for Escalante as well as four other widely separated 9-R campuses – Animas Valley, Florida Mesa, Fort Lewis Mesa and Sunnyside elementary schools.
The district has no hard numbers, but it’s estimated that the value of its half-acre would exceed the district’s $87,000 share of upgrading Baker Lane to city standards – the key to annexation.
Occupants of other Baker Lane properties and the logical buyer of the school’s half-acre would share the cost of improving Baker Lane.
In the other land deal, if an agreement among the school district, La Plata County and area homeowner associations is reached to improve Hermosa Meadows Road, the county could take over the road, guaranteeing public access to Animas Valley Elementary School.
Hermosa Meadows Road, which runs east off U.S. Highway 550 north of Dalton Ranch, currently is private property, purchased 18 months ago in a tax sale.
If the road becomes county property, the school will enjoy public-road maintenance and snow removal.
The estimated cost of improving Hermosa Meadows Road to county standards is $800,000.
Durango School District 9-R board members decided several years ago they would make no further land purchases that would require crossing private property to access a school, said district spokeswoman Julie Popp.
All other district schools are reached via public access. Animas Valley Elementary School was built in 1994 and Escalante Middle School in 1975.