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By Amy Bounds 

Parents and community members had their first opportunity Thursday night to hear about the vision for the Boulder Valley School District’s new pre-K-8 school in Erie, sharing what they like and what they still want to know.

“Our commitment is to create a learning environment to prepare students for the future,” said Boulder Valley Superintendent Bruce Messinger.

Leading the meeting was Isaac Williams, a principal architect at the Minneapolis-based architectural firm Fielding Nair International. The firm is working as a consultant on the design for the new Erie school, three school rebuilds and a major renovation at Centaurus High. The projects are part of Boulder Valley’s $576.5 million construction package, approved by voters in November.

The focus of Thursday’s meeting was gathering feedback on how to create innovative learning environments at the Erie school, including flexible spaces that allow for large groups, “maker” spaces for building and areas for small group work.

What’s not wanted, Williams said, is either the warehouse design of the much-maligned open-classroom model or the more typical main hallway with classrooms lined up on either side.

“What we’re trying to imagine together is a learning environment that’s more conducive to choices,” Williams said.

The new school, with a price tag of $39.7 million, will be located on the west side of Erie in the Flatiron Meadows neighborhood on land donated by the developer.

Neighbors, whose homes are along the property line of the new school, wanted to know more about where the school will be built on the site and how large it will be. They also urged the district to include neighbor feedback in the planning and consider how the new building will affect residents’ mountain views.

“We’re mainly concerned about placement on the site,” said school neighbor Terry Jones.

While decisions haven’t been made on where the building will sit or the number of stories, district officials said, the school likely will be around 100,000 square feet.

The new school will be Boulder Valley’s first in Erie.

About half the town is in the Boulder Valley School District and the other half is in the St. Vrain Valley School District. On the Boulder Valley side, Erie students are assigned to attend Lafayette Elementary and Lafayette’s Angevine Middle School.

While a final attendance area boundary decision hasn’t been made, district officials said, the new K-8 is expected to take students who live on the Boulder Valley side of Erie, while Lafayette students will continue to attend in Lafayette. Centaurus High in Lafayette will continue to be the feeder high school for Erie.

Other questions centered on safe routes for students to walk to school and potential improvements to paths and sidewalks. The school property also is adjacent to land owned by the town that’s designated as a park, with the district and the town planning to work together as the park is developed.

Meeting participants were encouraged to leave feedback on Post-it notes in three categories: “I wish,” “I like” and “I wonder.”

The “I wish” category included full-day kindergarten, a gifted focus similar to what’s offered at Lafayette Elementary, a bike path from the Arapahoe Ridge neighborhood and including community input in the design process. Participants’ likes include natural light, a garden and a variety of learning spaces in the design.

Kelly Bailey, who lives in the neighborhood next to the school site, said she’s excited for the new school but wants to make sure there’s no negative effect on Lafayette Elementary — where her kids now attend. She added that it’s going to be hard to decide whether to keep them at Lafayette Elementary, which she loves, or switch to the new school.

“We’re going to have two really good options,” she said.

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