Work starts on new community space at North Routt Community Charter School |

Work starts on new community space at North Routt Community Charter School

The toss of dirt last week marked the start of work on a new addition at North Routt Community Charter School in Clark, which will add a gym, workout space and community room to the school. (Courtesy photo)

CLARK — One thing there is not a lot of in Clark are buildings. For 13-year North Routt local Brandon LaChance the major landmarks are a mercantile store, a firehouse and the North Routt Community Charter School.

“One thing that we, as a community, are lacking is one area in our community, in the winter or anytime, that we can access a place to be physically active or do something,” said LaChance, who is executive director of the school.

As of early Monday morning, crews were starting to remedy that problem, as they kicked off work on a new addition to the school, which LaChance said he hopes will help the school become even more of a “beacon of the community” than it is now.

“It is really going to help the community, but it’s also going to blend the school and the community even more,” LaChance said. “Ultimately, that is what we want as a community school.”

Since the school was built, there have definitely been some things the school needed, according to Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks. Because the school’s charter is through the district, the new space was added to a 2019 bond measures that funded Sleeping Giant School, which is nearing completion.

Bond revenue was also raised to make building upgrades across the district, including $4.1 million for the new space in Clark. Meeks said it is important to invest and ensure those students have what they need, because even if they are 25 miles from Steamboat Springs now, they likely won’t be in the future.

“I’d say the majority of the students who attend North Routt Community Charter are going to end up reentering the schools in town here,” Meeks said.

The space will include a gymnasium slightly smaller than what would be in a traditional school, a workout room with some exercise equipment and a community room the school will use for art and other special classes. At night, this room can be rented by community members.

“The goal is that we will be having volleyball nights and men’s basketball and women’s basketball nights,” LaChance said. “It is really just how can we draw the community out.”

Mathew Ridge, parent of a seventh-grade student at the school and general manager at The Clark Store, said the school is already a major gathering spot in the community, even if there has not been much getting together in the past year.

“There is not much else out here, so it would be definitely nice to have something. Right now, if anyone is doing any type of activity, you’ve got to drive a half hour,” Ridge said. “I think it would be great to move some of that a little closer to our own home.”

LaChance said this new space will allow the school to offer more normal physical education classes, where now that program is almost exclusively outside. But what the school may have needed most was storage, and the new space will deliver on that, too.

“Six months out of the year, our kids are putting on skis every day, and so actually having a ski locker room, per se, is another angle of the build,” LaChance said, adding that this space would be on the building’s exterior. “We are just going to have a lot more functionality with the space.”

The school is also replacing its dusty gravel parking lot and driveway with a new asphalt surface that will be easier to maintain and safer for students. This will include a roadway to a parking lot for the community center, which would be closed off during the school day.

When the building is complete, work will start on the planned Sancy Shaw Memorial Soccer Field in honor of the beloved fifth- and sixth-grade teacher who died in a car crash on Christmas Eve in 2018.

“It is literally still taking us time to heal from it,” LaChance said. “Sancy was a Division 1 soccer player up in Laramie, so she had that passion, and we always talked about building a soccer field up in North Routt.”

LaChance said the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs has helped raise money, and the idea grew, garnering even more donations. The thought behind the field is very similar to the community space, LaChance said, allowing students to use it during the day and the community when school is out.

If weather permits, work on the field could start this fall before the snow flies, but either way, LaChance said it should be completed sometime early next summer.

“Quite frankly, there is not a lot of flat spaces up in North Routt that you can go play soccer on,” LaChance said. “The big thing is getting the gymnasium finished and completed, and then we can put all of our focus and direction on (the soccer field).”

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