NewsCovering Colorado


D60 school board closes Carlile Elementary

Carlile Elementary.jpg
Posted at 6:55 PM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 07:55:01-04

PUEBLO, Colorado — The School District 60 Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday afternoon in favor of an emergency closure of Carlile Elementary School. The district's facilities manager told the board the 90-year old building isn't safe for students and staff to return to in the fall.

"We need to ensure the safety of our students and staff which we can't do anymore, unfortunately," said board member Barb Clementi during the meeting.

Bob Lawson, Executive Director of Facilities and Construction Manager for District 60, told the board heavy rainstorms in May caused substantial roof leaking. A contractor was brought in to review the damage and recommended a roof replacement. The ceramic tiles on the roof were last replaced in 1951.

"They're anchored with nails, the nails have rusted away, corroded away. So, the tiles have become unstable and they're now shifting," Lawson said.

The building's boiler is also turned off. In June, Lawson requested an engineering study of the heating system which was installed when the school was built. The report said it posed a safety risk.

"They came back with a very strong recommendation that the heating system is at end of life and it is not safe to operate any further," Lawson said.

The school has an enrollment of around 190 students. The transition plan calls for many of the students, teachers, and support staff to join Carlile's principal Jimmie Pool at Columbian Elementary school in August.

Eric DeCesaro, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, told the board that he expects many employees to find their same positions at Columbian.

"Everybody's job is secure, I want to make sure everybody understands that," he said. "They'll be in the current position that they're in, it'll just be perhaps a different location, perhaps different specific role."

Bus service will be offered to families who live more than a mile away from Columbian. The district will also reopen its school choice window for affected families who wish to consider a different elementary school.

The autism program at Carlile will move to Bessemer Elementary. Dr. Sandy Gecewicz, the Executive Director of Exceptional Students Services, told the board that Columbian already has two center-based programs and the district's executive staff didn't want to overload the school with a third.

The board did not take action related to funding repairs at Carlile during their emergency meeting. Lawson explained the necessary work would likely take more than a year to finish and cost tens of millions of dollars.

Replacing the boiler alone triggers a series of additional fixes.

"You have to open walls and floors and ceilings to remove the old piping and put in the new piping and all the different things that would go with that," Lawson explained.

He said that level of renovation would mean the district losing any exemptions it has from building and occupancy codes such as those currently related to Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and asbestos abatement.

Some of the water damage from the May rainstorms extends to the building rafters. Lawson told the board that if rafter replacement is necessary, those materials would need to be custom-built on-site.

Administrators will meet with teachers and staff to discuss the transition in detail next week.