A proposal is on the table to level Columbine High School 20 years after the mass shooting that took 13 lives — to quell the “morbid fascination” that still haunts the building.
Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Jason Glass used that term as he wrote to community members seeking input.
“The tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 serves as a point of origin for this contagion of school shootings,” Glass said in the letter, which was posted by KDVR. “School shooters refer to and study the Columbine shooting as a macabre source of inspiration and motivation.”
Citing the April 20, 1999 shooting that rocked the community outside Denver as a “point of origin” for other horrific shootings that followed, Glass called it a contagion.
He also described the so-called “Columbiners,” people around the world who are obsessed with that shooting. The most recent high-profile person was Sol Pais, a Florida teen who traveled to Colorado and threatened the school, then killed herself before authorities could get to her, he said in the letter.
“Columbine High School has a gravitational-pull for these sorts of individuals,” Glass wrote. “Annually, local law enforcement and (Jefferson County’s) Department of School Safety make contacts with hundreds of individuals seeking to enter the school and reconnect with the 1999 murders. Most of them are there to satisfy curiosity or a macabre, but harmless, interest in the school. For a small group of others, there is a potential intent to do harm.”
He also said the number of people trying to trespass inside the school building or on the grounds has steadily increased in the 11 months leading up to the 20th anniversary and is now at record levels.
The district would consider asking for $60 million to $70 million in a public referendum. Some of the $15 million already allocated for school expansion would instead go toward enhancing safety at other schools in the district, he said.
The district surveying residents to gather input.
Glass outlined a few potential directions the project could go, which includes retaining the Columbine High School name, mascot and colors intact; building the new school nearby, just west of the current location; making the Hope Library the new building’s cornerstone, and planting fields at the site of the existing building, maintaining “controlled entry points.”
The new building would have enhanced safety features with greater monitoring and more school privacy. It would only cost about $1-$2 per month for a $500,000 home in the county.
“We are in the very preliminary and exploratory stages of these conversations, and we are seeking community feedback and thoughts on this proposal,” Glass said in the letter.
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