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Durango School District 9-R agrees to short-term lease with Pueblo Community College

PCC must find new location for the 2023-24 year
Pueblo Community College’s lease at Durango High has been renewed short-term, but Durango School District 9-R has notified the college that it should be looking for new space for the 2023-24 school year. (Durango herald file)

Durango School District 9-R Board of Education agreed to renew Pueblo Community College’s lease for part of Durango High School’s campus through June 2023.

However, PCC must find a new space for the 2023-24 school year so DHS can use the classrooms to accommodate growing student enrollment. The school district allowed PCC a sixth-month time period for the college to find a new space for its southwest location.

“We recognize that finding a space to lease in Durango can be challenging,” said 9-R superintendent Karen Cheser. “We want to give the PCC staff plenty of time and support for this transition.”

Pueblo Community College moved into the Durango High School location in 2018.

PCC currently uses the space one day a week for two classes during the day and two classes at night. About 20 Durango High School students attend one class in the PCC facility with the remainder of students coming from out of district.

The district has told PCC that it should look a for a new space because DHS has space constraints, the number of DHS students are increasing and DHS has an expanding high school career pathway program.

During a Nov. 29 board meeting, DHS Principal Jon Hoerl discussed the high school’s growth since the 2015-16 school year. During that school year, Durango High School had 1,036 students compared with 1,369 as of October.

Hoerl said the school has the potential to reach 1,475 students in the next two years. Durango High School’s career pathway program has also developed 15 different options including health sciences, engineering and computer science which means DHS will have more spatial needs.

The lack of space has forced the high school to convert some of the library into classroom space in order to satisfy the school’s different programming needs. Hoerl said spaces for the high school’s career pathway learning must be permanent and subject-specific.

“We need these spaces to be their own and create an environment when they walk in the door, that it’s the professional atmosphere that mirrors the one they are walking into,” Hoerl said.

The district has also offered PCC the ability to co-lease a space at the district’s new Durango Tech Center location with Big Picture High School.

“PCC has been a valuable experiment at the high school, and we appreciate the contributions of their staff to our students’ learning. However, our top priority is the needs of our own staff and students,” Cheser said.

Durango High School teachers will continue to offer career pathway classes that give students PCC credits, which cost the district about $300,000.

Pueblo Community College President Patty Erjavec was unavailable for comment Monday.

tbrown@durangoherald.com

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