Another Home Base for DCSD
Douglas County School District (DCSD) will move into a centralized location to provide more offices for staff, learning opportunities for students seeking industry certificates and a space for larger school meetings and events.
The new campus, known as the DCSD Legacy Campus, is a 175,000-square-foot space previously occupied by The Wildlife Experience and CU South Denver. The purchase price of $10.3 million is “well below market value,” according to DCSD.
The facility, southwest of Lincoln Avenue and South Peoria Street in Parker, will provide additional room for academic programming, staff offices and conference space. High school students will have the opportunity to earn industry certifications in the trades and experience learning in focused pathways that provide a competitive advantage in the world of work, military, technical and trade schools, colleges and additional postsecondary opportunities.
The CU South space has a great hall and an auditorium that “have the potential to generate rental revenue and offset costs DCSD would have otherwise spent to rent similar spaces,” DCSD stated in a press release. The space allows for potential usage for community events, such as Board of Education meetings, art shows, homecomings and proms. Plus, by consolidating some central administration offices, the district reduces the need for staff to regularly travel to other administrative buildings for meetings.
DCSD had previously planned to construct the Innovation Center and Alternative Education School at a new campus on Pine Drive in Parker. The Pine Drive facility was part of a voter-approved 2018 bond to provide career and technical education and “concurrent enrollment” opportunities to DCSD students. However, in October 2021, the DCSD Board of Education approved placing the project on Pine Drive on hold due to budget overruns.
According to Wildlife Experience founders Dave and Gail Liniger, this was a satisfactory ending to what they started 15-20 years ago. “The original gift was made so that people would benefit from conservation education, and I am happy to see that it will remain an educational facility,” said Dave.
DCSD estimated that constructing 175,000 square feet of new space would typically cost in the range of $90 – $100 million. Additionally, a 14-acre site in this particular location would cost at least $500,000 per acre, and the “total estimated cost to construct a new school of this size on this acreage would cost approximately $97 – $107 million on the low range of the estimate,” added DCSD.
Gross annual operating costs including utilities, grounds, custodial and security services are estimated to be approximately $1.4 million, which is similar to the per-square-foot costs to operate local high schools, the press release said.
The DCSD Legacy Campus will open its doors with 700+ students for the 2023-2024 school year and will provide students districtwide access to additional career and technical education, concurrent enrollment, and work-based learning experiences. For additional information, visit dcsdk12.org.
By Chris Michlewicz; courtesy photo