Hayden to decide on alternative school
Hayden — Steve Jones will know soon if his district must go forward with plans for an alternative school alone.
Jones, superintendent of the Soroco School District, began working with the Hayden School District last year on an alternative school for students who do not fit into the traditional classroom setting.
The Hayden School Board will decide tonight if Hayden students will be a part of that vision.
“It’s either fish or cut bait,” Hayden Superintendent Scott Mader said.
Hayden School Board President Kurt Frentress said the board saw the importance of deciding where the district stood on the project.
“We felt, to be fair to Soroco, that we needed to make a decision before we have too many resources tied in it,” Frentress said.
The board approached the project with the idea that both districts could benefit from a joint effort, he said.
After months of inquiries and research, he said, the board now feels it can make the right decision for the district.
“We now have enough information,” Frentress said.
The Hayden School Board does not oppose an alternative, but it does have some concerns about the number of students who would actually attend the school and the cost of financing the project, he said.
Neither Hayden nor Soroco would foot the bill of the alternative school, because funding from the state, such as Energy Impact grants, could finance the project.
Transportation to and from the school would not impose a burden because both Hayden and South Routt bus routes run within a few miles of each other.
The abandoned Twentymile Coal Co. headquarters about 18 miles south of Hayden is the preferred site for the alternative school.
The two districts came together to pursue the same idea because they thought they could do more together than apart, Mader said in a previous board meeting.
Combining resources made sense, he added.
Moffat County, Kremmling Glenwood Springs and Meeker offer alternative schools for their high school students.
Regardless of the Hayden School Board’s decision, the Soroco School District will continue its plans to offer its students an alternative school, Jones said.
“We’re going to go forward with or without Hayden,” he said.
If the Soroco School District solely pursued an alternative school, Jones said, the abandoned mine would be a possible location in the future.
The district, however, does not have enough students currently interested in the school to justify such a large facility.
A closer location in Oak Creek would be pursued instead, he said.
The districts originally pushed for a fall start date, but securing a building and finding a way to finance another school by that time proved to be wishful thinking.
Jones said he would like to see an alternative school materialize by the middle of the next school year.
“We wouldn’t try to open anything in the fall,” he said.
If the district pulled out of plans to create an alternative school, it would have invested only time in the project, Mader said.
Jones said he would be sorry to see the Hayden School District opt out of the joint project.
“I’ll be disappointed if they don’t move forward with us, but I understand that our situation is different than theirs.”
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