Superintendent explains school repurposing project

By Lyndsie Ferrell
DEL NORTE— Due to some confusion within the community of Del Norte, Superintendent Chris Burr has released a statement explaining the repurposing project and the school’s plans for the future of the old school buildings.
Burr explained that in the beginning while trying to secure the BEST grant needed to build the new school, the application required the school to budget for demolition of all buildings in the district, but that after the grant was secured and hearing the community’s desire to salvage the buildings, plans changed.
“We had to budget for demolition in the beginning, but once the community spoke up and made it clear that they would like to see the old school buildings repurposed, we contacted the BEST program and asked if it were possible to try and save as many as we could. The BEST program told us that as long as the buildings were removed completely from our books, we could go that route and so we did,” said Burr.
Over the course of several months, even before the bond was passed, people from the community began working together to reach out to local organizations that may be interested in repurposing some of the district’s buildings. “Once the bond passed, we started the repurposing committee that is comprised of school staff and local residents to see if we could actually get some of these buildings off of our hands and save some extra funding to go towards the new school,” explained Burr.
It wasn’t long before local organizations like the Del Norte Head Start and Del Norte Fire Department expressed interest in two of the buildings. “The head start program contacted us immediately and expressed interest in the Mesa building, and we are in the final stages of donating it to their cause. All we are waiting on with all properties is the final land survey and title work which should be complete in a few weeks. We have the choice of either donating the buildings or selling them, and so far, we plan to donate the high school field house to the fire department and the Mesa building to head start,” finished Burr.
As for the remaining four buildings, Burr stated that other organizations like the Forest Service out of Monte Vista and some outlying companies that have dealt with repurposing projects in other school districts around the state are interested in the old middle school, the Underwood building located by the Mesa building and the old high school. “We know we can get these building repurposed and continue to better the community by doing so. We will do everything in our power to keep from demolishing any of the buildings and will work right up to the last second to keep that from happening,” said Burr.
The school has also announced that there will be a ground-breaking ceremony held at the high school football field on May 24 at 8 a.m. and encourages the community to come and join in on the fun.