Aspen Middle School is not Harvard
Dear Editor:I am writing in response to Mike Marolt’s letter that appeared in your Oct. 18 edition. Mr. Marolt’s hypothesis that if Harvard University can make do with 200-year-old classrooms, then Aspen Middle School can live with a 35-year-old building overlooks a few essential facts. Harvard University has one of the highest endowments of any school in the country. In addition, its tuition is substantially higher than the $8,000 per student that the state of Colorado doles out to the Aspen School District each year. The same is true for the “other prestigious institutions” referenced in his letter. Consequently, Harvard University and those other prestigious institutions have a much greater income to spend on adapting and maintaining those older buildings to current educational standards than does our school district. Harvard’s buildings were constructed, at much greater cost, to last 200 years. The Aspen Middle School building was not. Harvard’s buildings are historical in nature and are worthy of preservation. The Aspen Middle School building is not.I would also submit that the facilities needed for quality elementary and middle school education cannot be compared with the facilities that may be used for quality college and graduate education. If the district does not construct the new middle school building, it will be required to spend $14.5 million to repair the current building. Included in that cost is $1 million to house our students in portables, probably located on the football field, while the repairs are being done. At best, the repaired building would last another 15 years.The cost of a new building, and other planned improvements, is $22.5 million and, due to the construction plans, our students will not need to be housed in portables during the construction. The new building is estimated to last for 50 years. Constructing the new building is clearly the fiscally responsible alternative.The 3B bond referendum has nothing to do with “conspicuous consumption” as suggested in Mr. Marolt’s letter. Its sole purpose is to provide our children with a quality facility geared to today’s demanding educational curriculum. As parents and community members, we need to give our children the best opportunity for a quality education that we can.Vote yes on 3A and 3B!J. Cavanaugh O’LearyAspen
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A management plan for the Marolt Open Space guides the city to largely leave it alone, although a feasibility study will be done for a potential bike park on the south side of the property.