The Aspen Community School needs your help

The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

You’ve likely read the numerous letters to the editor and newspaper articles on Aspen Community School’s “I Believe We Can” campaign, which is heading into its final stretch.

Here’s the deal: The Woody Creek charter school is scrambling to raise $4.9 million by May 1, which is less than six weeks away. By securing that amount, the school will be entitled to the state of Colorado’s $4.2 Building Excellent Schools Today grant, which will put it in prime shape to raise $11.6 million for the campus expansion.

A huge boost came last week when the Walton Foundation donated $1 million to the school, pushing the total to $2.6 million – or $2.3 million shy of the $4.9 million goal.

The kindergarten-through-eighth-grade Community School, founded in 1970, is a community treasure, enriching the lives of many uppervalley youth, some of whom have become valedictorians at Aspen High School – others who are community leaders.

It’s an all-hands-on-deck school, heavily dependent on the involvement of parents. It’s a hands-on school, too, where students enjoy small class sizes and daily interaction with their teachers.

As successful as the school has been over the years, its facilities fall measurably short. Classrooms, as small as they are, are overcrowded; the small building can’t accommodate disabled people; its ventilation, sanitation, restrooms and kitchen are sub-par.

There’s plenty of work to be done, and it will be done if the money comes in.

If the school is successful in its campaign, it can make a decent learning facility a great one by adding another $5,000 square feet to the campus, which would equate to 25 percent more classroom space. Additionally, the school’s performing-arts areas would increase by 50 percent; the school would be accessible to the handicapped; and the campus would be more pedestrian-friendly than it currently is.

In the past, we have supported the Aspen School District in the upgrades to its elementary, middle and high schools through property tax increases. This fall, this newspaper endorsed the Aspen Education Foundation’s sales tax increase to support the school district in the wake of state budget cuts.

Now it’s time to focus exclusively on the Community School, which often is in the shadows of the bigger campus in Aspen.

Any donation will help, be it five bucks or 500. But don’t take our word for it. Take a minute to visit the website, so you can learn more about the campaign and the Aspen Community School. There, you also can make a donation.

By doing our part to ensure the success of Aspen Community School, we’ll also be helping to ensure that our youth will be put on the right path to an excellent education that will pay off in the years to come. And remember: Any amount will help achieve this goal.