Going from old school to new school
December 19, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoCARBONDALE School’s out for good at the old Carbondale Elementary School building, now called Crystal River Elementary School West Campus, where the kids have walked out of their classrooms for the last time.The school released kids at both the east and west campuses for vacation Monday, two days ahead of the rest of the Roaring Fork School District. And they won’t be back in class until Jan. 8, giving them four extra days for the holidays.For the rest of the district, winter break begins Thursday, and students return to school Jan. 4. The early release and late return for Carbondale’s youngsters give district staff time to complete the move of materials, furnishings and other gear from the old school to the newly expanded Crystal River Elementary School on Snowmass Drive.After that, the school district and the town of Carbondale will try to figure out a way to convert the old school into something completely different. The talks center mainly around the town’s desire to turn the building into low-cost space for local nonprofits, and fill the need for teacher housing, among other issues.Meanwhile, the kids in preschool through grade 5 are getting virtually a new school.According to an information sheet from the district, the new school will be bigger than both the old Carbondale Elementary School and the older part of Crystal River Elementary School combined, an increase around 65,000 square feet to more than 76,540 square feet. That will bring the enrollment capacity from 560 to 640, with room to grow in the future if necessary, according to the district.In the new school, the preschool and kindergarten kids in the new school will be in a separate wing from the first- through fifth-graders, and the first- through fifth-grade classrooms will be arranged in “pods” with common learning areas and teacher planning rooms.The new school has a larger library (with views of Mount Sopris to the south); an extra technology lab and new spaces for a variety of specialized learning classes.Air conditioning will cool the entire school (except for the gymnasium), using a new energy-efficient design that was “partially funded through [a] Rebuild Colorado grant,” the district’s statement continued. The school also features a new “outdoor patio performance area, and music room with divider wall to [the] gym, so that music room can serve as a performance stage.”There are separate parking areas for visitors and parents in front, and bus drop-off and staff parking in back, with new playground equipment, climbing rocks, a basketball court and sidewalks to complement the new landscaping.According to the school district, the expansion project cost $11.2 million and took 13 months to complete, from groundbreaking in November 2005 to the Jan. 8 opening.Superintendent Judy Haptonstall and Crystal River Elementary School Principal Karen Olson were not available for comment on this story.