Introduction

BIG NEWS FROM THE FEBRUARY 28th BVSD SCHOOL BOARD MEETING: BVSD has decided not to proceed with the sale of Uni Hill to CU!


Bruce Messinger started his Superintendent's Report at tonight's school board meeting with the news that the district has decided not to proceed with the sale of Uni Hill Elementary to CU! Uni Hill will remain a PK-5 school, and BVSD plans to make repairs on the main building and to build an addition that will allow the preschool and kindergarten classes to be housed with the other grades. The district estimates that $10,000,000 is needed to accomplish these goals, and a search will be under way to find a source for these funds. Other uses will be found for the little building and the area surrounding it. New Vista and CU will continue to move forward with their joint collaboration efforts.

Thank you for your interest in this process, and for letting BVSD know that the Boulder community values transparency and communication in decisions involving its schools

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On March 8, 2016, BVSD Superintendent Messinger sent letters to University Hill Elementary and New Vista High School parents.  In the letter, he announced a (one-year) hold on the 2014 bond projects for those two schools while BVSD explores the possibility of selling the Uni Hill campus to CU and "perhaps expanding [Uni Hill] into a PK-8."  

The Daily Camera subsequently reported that funds from the property sale plus the bond money allocated for the two schools could be used to construct a new Uni Hill school and a new New Vista High School, both on New Vista's current campus.

This proposed change has many stakeholders -- taxpayers, neighbors, historic preservationists, good governance and transparency advocates, and people concerned about what is best for the students, their families and the teachers and staff. These stakeholders are being excluded from the decision process. These stakeholders are asking BVSD to open up the discussion for thorough public input before a decision is made, to show that BVSD has considered all aspects of any future change, and to present a long-term plan and evidence that the plan is viable and in the best interest of the interested parties. 

On January 20th, 2017, the Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee sent a letter to the BVSD School Board reminding them, "We believe the opportunity for public discussion of this decision is important for the district to maintain its commitment to transparency and community involvement in the implementation of the Bond Program."

The long-awaited feasibility study is complete. It will be presented to the school board Tuesday, Feb 28 in a closed executive session at 4:30 pm and released to the public on Wed, March 1.

The Uni Hill Elementary principal invites you to tour the school. Please see her full comment, including the invitation, on the BVSD Communication page.
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**If you'd like to add your signature to the guest opinion below, please let us know on the Contacts and Links page.**

Daily Camera Guest Opinion, December 18th, 2016

Is BVSD walking back on its 2014 Uni Hill promise?

By Allyn Feinberg and Felicity Wong

When you travel on I-25 in Denver, you can't miss the Broncos' Mile High Stadium. It dominates the landscape. And, when you travel on Broadway in Boulder, it's hard to miss the grand, historic University Hill Elementary building across the street from CU.

Just as Denver voters were consulted and even paid for much of the stadium, Boulder Valley School District voters consented to renovating Uni Hill as part of the 2014 capital construction bond election. Now BVSD is considering selling the Uni Hill campus to CU and using the proceeds to help finance a new PK-8 and a new high school on the New Vista campus.

Why now, when the district has the money it needs to renovate Uni Hill? What "problem" is BVSD trying to solve?

It can't be that Uni Hill needs more space. The bond project includes an expanded cafeteria and two new classrooms. Besides, limiting growth at Uni Hill is just a matter of limiting open enrollment since Uni Hill does not have a neighborhood attendance area.

It can't be that they need a brand-new school just so they can have another middle-school bilingual track. Manhattan is already introducing one in 2017.

It can't be that BVSD needs to do this so Uni Hill can collaborate with CU. BVSD already collaborates with CU, and everyone agrees they will continue to collaborate whether or not BVSD sells Uni Hill.

So, what is it? Does BVSD really need the money from the sale of this property after we just passed a $576 million bond in 2014 and a new, permanent property tax this fall? How can that be? Or is it that CU has been eyeing the Uni Hill property for years, and they have finally found someone who is willing to make a deal?

And, what exactly is the deal? Are the touted benefits of opening the new schools after hours to CU and the community for rental income really worth the increased traffic, risk of compromised building security, and disruption of classrooms?

And, why would we even think of moving Uni Hill from its highly desirable current location (which includes a new, safe pedestrian underpass under Broadway for field trips to CU) or risking the preservation of arguably one of the most historic and beautiful buildings in Boulder? (CU doesn't have to honor the historic designation whereas BVSD worked with Historic Boulder to create the designation.) And, who really thinks it's a good idea to put kindergarteners on a high school campus?

We have to ask all these questions in this forum because, when we meet with CU and BVSD, we're told not to worry. They are just "exploring" this idea and we will have a chance to give input. Well, this is our input: BVSD needs better reasons than they have given so far for breaking their promise to voters, and they should not rush into a real estate decision of this magnitude without honest, open communication with the Uni Hill Elementary and wider communities. The old wounds from the loss of both Washington Elementary's bilingual program and Uni Hill's experiential program are still raw, and BVSD's unwillingness to discuss issues openly is not helping to heal them. 

BVSD administration is driving this proposal. The school board has yet to have a discussion of the proposal's merits and demerits. Meanwhile, how can we ensure that students, families and BVSD employees feel free to question the proposal without fear of retribution?

A bilingual PK-8 is an endeavor worth considering, but it's one that deserves serious planning in order to ensure its success. How will it impact bilingual programs at other schools? BVSD has never had a K-8 bilingual school. Are we considering a bilingual track or a pure bilingual middle school? How will it work? Let's have a complete dialogue about it in the school community while BVSD still owns the Uni Hill campus, rather than have it forced from central administration now with only vague details and "trust us." 

The voters passed BVSD bond projects in 1998, 2006, and 2014. The next bond is "due" in 2022. BVSD could use the intervening years to gather community input, negotiate to the best advantage with CU, and present a thoughtful, complete proposal for voters to consider at the ballot box.

Allyn Feinberg and Felicity Wong live in Boulder. 

Other signatories on this guest opinion:
Jyotsna Raj, Boulder
David Eason, Boulder
Nancy Blackwood, Boulder
Steven Walsh, Boulder
Clayton Lewis, Boulder
Tamah Matejka, Boulder
Tom Matejka, Boulder
Elizabeth Bramhall, Boulder
Elene Mooney, Boulder
Lisa Spalding, Boulder
Anne Becher, Boulder
Laura Spalding, Boulder
Cliff Smedley, Lafayette
William Bowe, Boulder
Susan Boucher, Boulder
Alfy Sommers, Boulder
Geof Cahoon, Boulder
Patricia Feeser, Boulder
Audy Leggere-Hickey, Boulder
Lisa Harris, Boulder
Bruce Honeyman, Boulder
Amelia Waltman, Boulder
Anita Cooper, Salida
Christy Lapp, Boulder
Beth Osnes, Boulder
Lisa van Leuwen-Hall, Boulder


Post-publication signatories:
Britta Singer, Boulder
Esther Graw, Boulder
Kathy Guyton, Nederland
2 anonymous BVSD elementary teachers, Boulder
John LeClair, Boulder
Marylou Harrison, Boulder
Hector Urroz, Boulder
Lisa Hammond, Boulder
Sunday Cook, Boulder
Thomas Cook, Boulder
Abby Daniels, Boulder
Linda Marshall, Boulder
Cosima Kreuger-Cunningham, Boulder
Elissa Guralnick, Boulder
Gail Gray, Boulder
Ellen Aiken, Boulder
Keene Tomsyck, Boulder