Douglas County Schools

Neighbors oppose moving school into community

Building in Lone Tree will house Eagle Academy alternative program

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More than 200 residents of a Lone Tree neighborhood have raised objections to the Douglas County School District’s approval of the purchase of a nearby building that will serve as home to the district’s evening high school program.

A number of residents of the upscale Heritage Hills community, which backs up to the property at 9350 Teddy Lane, came to the Jan. 17 board of education meeting to voice their concerns. The vacant building that previously was a bank will be home to the district’s Eagle Academy, which has an enrollment of about 270 students.

Karen Short, a 16-year resident of the area, said having the school move in worries her.

“I am a neighbor to Teddy Lane,” she said. “The distance from the door to my backyard is less than the distance between home plate and first base on a baseball field — distance that can be traveled in 10 seconds,” Short said. “A night alternative high school, 81 feet from my residence, is completely and totally unacceptable.”

But interim Superintendent Erin Kane said the school and its students would not be disruptive to the community.

“I have read all the letters, I’ve heard all the feedback from Heritage Hills and I see the concerned residents here tonight,” Kane said. “I want to commit to them that we will bend over backward to work together to be good neighbors.”

Pam Ladnier, president of the Heritage Hills Homeowners Association, said she and her neighbors are concerned about increased traffic and noise from students coming and going in the evenings.

“The student lounge will look out into the backyards and homes only 70 feet away,” Ladnier said.

Al Talbert, another Heritage Hills resident, also voiced concerns about lack of privacy.

“They’ll be able to look into our house four nights a week from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. year-round,” Talbert said. “This is our backyard. This is where we play with our children, play with our dogs, barbecue and have friends and families over.”

More than 200 residents have signed a petition against moving the school to the Teddy Lane property, which is south of C-470 and west of I-25.

The school board voted 6-1 to purchase the building. Board member Wendy Vogel voted against the move, citing concerns about funding, other capital needs in the district and the impact on nearby residents.

The property is 26,000 square feet and is expected to cost the district $3.95 million to purchase and an estimated $3 million to renovate.

Eagle Academy, which has been housed at Highlands Ranch High School, is an afternoon and evening high school program that provides “an alternative path to earning a high school diploma,” according to the district website.

The district’s Master Capital Plan identifies the need for $29.3 million for new construction to meet the needs of alternative secondary school students. Eagle Academy’s current location at Highlands Ranch High has limited the school’s growth, according to the district.

Eagle Academy Principal Jeff Broeker defended his school and students and pledged to be “good neighbors.”

“I feel as good neighbors we could mitigate many of those things which were shared this evening in terms of privacy, in terms of our students and their whereabouts and how we will utilizing the facility,” Broeker said.

Colby Martell, Eagle Academy’s student body president, spoke to the board about the need for his school to have its own community.

“I have truly felt like a visitor,” he said. “I don’t really feel like I belong in that building, because it is Highlands Ranch.”

Eagle Academy English teacher Don Hoaglin said the feeling wasn’t limited to the students.

“When I first started at Eagle, I came in, had to borrow a room, borrow resources and I felt like a visitor in my own classroom,” Hoaglin said. “If an adult is feeling that, consider this: What is a 16-, 17-, 18- or 19-year-old student feeling as a perpetual visitor? By having our own site, we could do so many good and positive things.”

The district said it would work with Heritage Hills residents as it finalizes plans for the building.

DCSD’s Bridge North and Child Find programs, which are located in leased properties currently and cost the district $166,000 a year, will also be housed in the new building.

Bridge North is an extension of DCSD’s transition services. The program serves students 18-21 years of age with significant support needs in the areas of adult living skills and vocational goals.

Child Find is part of the district’s special education program and serves as a resource for families who are residents of Douglas County at no charge.

DCSD is expected to begin occupying the building in August, barring any delays or permitting issues.

Comments

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3@DCSD

Kane and her "Team" have ignored neighborhood high school issues brought to their attention in the past....and this will be different because?

Wednesday, January 25 | Report this
Give them a chance

This makes me sad. This is a completely enclosed building separated from the neighborhood by a 6 foot fence. While the building may not have been there when the houses were built, the property was zoned for public use, including schools. This seems to be more related to the kind of school Eagle is, as opposed to the fact that "a school" will be housed there. Now that Eagle doesn't have to wait for HRHS classes to end before starting theirs, maybe they can start earlier in the afternoon, and so end earlier in the evening. They can also keep blinds draw so students can't look into the homeowners yards -- though I wonder where the outrage was the the bank employees could look into their yards? These kids need a school, the district has been looking for one for a LONG time, and this is about the only option the cash-strapped district can afford. These aren't bad kids, they're kids that have had misfortune in their lives that made regular high school difficult for them. They want to learn, not look into your yard. Give them a chance.

Wednesday, January 25 | Report this
Correction

The building was never occupied by a bank. It has been vacant since day one (since 2008). It is not about good or bad kids. It is about 270 kids with cars, busses and traffic 80 feet from windows until 9-10 pm. $7,000,000 for a 26,000 sqft building is not a good deal. Please use the money to pay better salaries for teachers in order to retain them.

Douglas county school district have a very clear scheme to locate this school on this particular property, with zero regard to the residents. Douglas County School District communicated to the community by a real estate company to very few residences few days before Christmas. Thank you!!

It was disgraceful for Douglas county school district to use students to advance their plan during the meetings. There was absolutely no reason for Douglas county to expose them to rhetoric and discussions involving the location of the school meant for adults only, not their worth as people or the value of their education. They should be ashamed of themselves. If they can’t see the difference of displaying children to further their own agenda, they should not be in a position to work with children.

Thursday, January 26 | Report this
Becca Manzanares

Another correction: Eagle Academy does not have 270 students; the enrollment ranges from 130 to 145. We welcome anyone who would like to know more about our program.

Monday, January 30 | Report this
Not good use of tax money

$7,000,000/130 students = $53,846 per student ? wow

Saturday, February 11 | Report this
Dixie Wetsworth

Ahh, such an interesting article. Humorous isn't it that anyone in our community would expect privacy. I mean the houses are two feet from each other, yet this is a point made in this article? Get over yourselves, and your "10 second quote." You act as if these students are going to rob you out of house or home, or perhaps assault you. Definitely problems of 1st world middle class suburbanites without cabanas. I have a pool boy and yet, I'm not complaining, and he dances, and dances, and dances all night. AHhhh, education, dance for me pool boy!

Sunday, February 26 | Report this