Columbine High School could be torn down.
The school has been an uneasy landmark for the community in the two decades since the tragedy that marked a turning point in the country’s relationship with mass shootings.
In a letter to parents, Jefferson County Superintendent Jason Glass said the district and school board was exploring the idea of building a new school on the site, due to the continued public attention and obsession with the physical building.
In an interview with CPR News, Glass said school security has made record a number of calls to police in the past year. In April, a young woman allegedly obsessed with the 1999 shooting sparked lock downs across the Front Range, as law enforcement feared a copycat incident.
"Over the course of this year, we’ve seen the pressures on Columbine continue to increase as folks have tried to enter the school, come on the grounds, even tour buses, pulling up on it," Glass said. "And then with the events associated with Sol Pais and the 20th anniversary, it really came to a recognition that the threats associated with Columbine and its source of origin for this contagion of school shootings is not subsiding. It's just growing."
Hundreds of people visit Columbine High School each year, most of them harmless but some with the potential to do harm, Glass said. The number of visitors requires intense monitoring and enforcement.
“Columbine is already a very safe school. It's one of the safest schools in the country because it's Columbine," Glass said. "But can we do something to make it even more secure? And can we do something to sort of reduce and mitigate this contagion of school shootings?”
The district could ask Jeffco voters for $60 to $70 million dollars to demolish and replace the school. The letter makes clear this idea is still in its early stages. It indicates they could keep the name, as well as the Hope Library built in the wake of the shooting to commemorate the victims. Community members can share their thoughts on the project here.
"I think over the next couple of months we'll also be engaged in face-to-face and heart-to-heart discussions around what people really think about this to see what, if anything we want to do going forward," Glass said.
A smaller renovation of the school was already planned and paid for under a bond approved by voters in 2018.
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