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Developer floats idea of high and middle schools in Fraser

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

The hot topic at last night’s town meeting in Fraser was a presentation given by a developer about possibly building a middle school and high school in Fraser.

The presentation was given by Clark Lipscomb, developer for Cornerstone. Roughly 12 people came to the meeting including parents and school board members, as well as East Grand School District Superintendent Robb Rankin.

Lipscomb said Cornerstone is willing to donate a 20.5-acre parcel of land toward the schools. The land is located in Byers Peak Ranch. The land is available for three years, but the offer will be withdrawn if no action is taken on the proposal.

The Fraser Valley Schools concept, as Lipscomb called it, is based on the belief that the Upper Fraser Valley is on “a fairly solid pattern of growth,” as is the rest of the county, Lipscomb said.

He estimated that with a 4 percent annual growth rate of full-time residents in the Fraser Valley, the current schools will be unable to accommodate the growing number of students. He also pointed out the temporary facilities being used at Fraser valley Elementary School, and the fifth-graders who were moved to the nearby middle school in Granby to alleviate congestion.

Rankin gave his perspective, as well as Dick Zieff, a member of the school board for eight years.

Zieff said Lipscomb’s offer was “very generous, the most generous approach I’ve seen in 25 years in support of the school district.”

But the time constraint on the property would be too soon, Zieff said. The current growth, he felt, would not support new schools.

“I think something along this line in the future could work, but it depends on growth,” Zieff said.

Zieff said he does not believe 4 percent growth would be a significant number by the time the new schools would have to be built, which would be 2010.

“That doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea,” he added.

Zieff then suggested using the land for the Indian Peaks Charter School instead. That school, he pointed out, “desperately wants to move on this side of Red Dirt Hill. Is the charter school a start that Fraser and Winter Park (and Cornerstone’s project) would embrace?” he asked.

Rankin also commented on Cornerstone’s idea for the two new schools and agreed the timeline for the project is restrictive. Student numbers wouldn’t be viable to build new schools by 2010, and any construction in the Fraser Valley would have to be financed by bonds and therefore be approved by the entire district by that time, he pointed out.

Still, as a long-term idea, he agreed building a high school and middle school “in this area has some merit.” He also thought the location “is very viable.”

“I don’t think it’s matter of if. It’s a matter of when,” Rankin said.

He then talked about the proposed school bond for this fall, which, he said, could take care of the overcrowding at the Fraser Valley and Granby schools for the next 15 years.

Lipscomb ended his presentation to the trustees by stating his idea may not be the perfect fit, but he felt the school board appreciated his thoughts.

“Like I said, I’m not an educator. I’m a developer ” I build communities. This is just a big picture idea,” he said.

Rankin said he and Lipscomb would continue discussions.


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