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October 07, 2008 3:01 am

Old Southside school to be mothballed

Written by Tribune Staff

The old Southside Elementary building has been replaced, but the school district can't dispose of it just yet.

Scott Campbell, coordinator of support services for Park County School District No. 1, said the property eventually will be sold, but for now it will be mothballed until a new Westside Elementary building is completed.

The district's intention is to move Westside students into the old Southside building during the construction of a new Westside.

Campbell said he believes Westside will have to stay in the Southside building for two years, because, unlike the new Southside, the new Westside will be built on the same site as the current building, requiring more construction time.

“We will demolish the old school and build the new one on the same site,” Campbell said. “There's not enough room to build on the property without demolishing the old building and meet the SFC's requirements, and where Westside is now is probably the best site for the school.”

At one time, the district also considered the possibility that Parkside school would use the Westside building for a year while major remodeling is done to the Parkside roof. However, Parkside principal Kenny Jones said that Todd Wilder, project manager for the School Facilities Commission, has said the work can be completed during the summer, and there will be no need to relocate Parkside students.

Just when the new Westside building will be built is uncertain. The new building is in the design stage, but funding for its construction has not been scheduled for the current two-year state budget, according to District No. 1 Superintendent Kevin Mitchell.

In addition, the state is re-evaluating all of the state's schools this winter to determine the need for remodeling or replacing facilities, and that re-evaluation will generate a new list, Campbell said, and said Westside's placement on that list is uncertain.

Mitchell said the availability of funding for construction depends on a number of factors, including progress on facilities already funded and needs of other districts. A district with unexpected enrollment growth, for example, might move to the top of the schedule. But the district will continue to complete the design of the new school as soon as possible.

“Our intention is to get a good design out there, and when it's approved, we'll be ready to move ahead,” Mitchell said. “When the money becomes available, we want to be in a position to take advantage of it.”

Campbell said that once the new school is completed, the Southside building will become expendable, since the current Parkside school will be addressed by remodeling that can take place in the summer, so students will not have to be moved to Southside during construction. Additionally, under the state funding model, the district will receive no money to maintain the building.

“Once the new (Westside) school is done, we'll put (Southside) up for sale,” Campbell said.