Animas High School has been awarded $13.7M through the competitive Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) Grant process through the Colorado Department of Education for construction of a new facility to be built on the Fort Lewis College campus, south of the Bader-Snyder Residence Halls.
The one-of-a-kind partnership between Fort Lewis College and Animas High School, a tuition-free public charter school, will build upon existing collaboration between the two Durango-based schools, strengthening both institutions and benefiting the community at large.
“The AHS and FLC partnership is suited to best serve our community and will enhance the programmatic engagement between the College and local public schools,” says FLC President Tom Stritikus. “By bringing an outstanding educational partner to campus, we’re increasing our opportunity for learning and deepening collaborations between local educational entities. At FLC we’ve long admired the work of AHS and we know they will increase the vibrancy of our campus."
“We are thrilled to announce our plans to build our permanent campus at Fort Lewis College, as our schools share key values of innovation, experiential education, transformative learning and inclusivity,” says AHS Head of School Sean Woytek. “Moving AHS to Fort Lewis will allow us to strengthen the already excellent educational experience we provide for students by increasing access to 21st century facilities and resources in a new building and central location that will better support our mission, vision and values. What better way to help prepare young adults for college than to have their high school experience actually take place on a college campus?”
The total projected cost of building AHS’ permanent campus at FLC is expected to be approximately $20M. AHS will pursue a variety of funding sources in addition to the BEST Grant, including bonds, loans and a capital campaign. If Durango School District 9-R proceeds with seeking voter approval for a bond in the November General Election, as they have been advised to do, a portion of the bond may be allocated for AHS capital construction.
AHS completed a Facilities Master Plan in February 2019 though an inclusive, collaborative process in partnership with Ratio/Humphries Poli Architects, a Denver based architecture firm specializing in the design of highly imaginative K-12 schools in Colorado, and Durango-based firm Responsive Designs. In coming months, AHS will release Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for an Owner’s Representative and Architect to complete the campus building process. Once these team members have been identified, AHS will spend approximately 12 months transforming current conceptual designs into buildable blueprints. As with the creation of the Facilities Master Plan, AHS will actively seek input from students, staff, families and community members in this design process.
Construction of AHS’ new campus is expected to take 12 to 24 months, which indicates that the school will move from its current location at Twin Buttes to Fort Lewis College as soon as Fall 2022 and ideally no later than Fall 2023.
About Animas High School: Located in Durango, Colorado, Animas High School opened in the fall of 2009 to offer rigorous, individualized college preparation through project-based learning, inspired by the design principles of nationally acclaimed High Tech High in San Diego, California. AHS is a public charter school serving approximately 200 students in grades 9-12, chartered through the Colorado Charter School Institute. The vision 11 years ago, which continues to this day, was to create a small school that embodies educational leadership through innovative programs that raise the bar for public education. The school’s mission is to prepare all students for college and postsecondary success by creating critical thinkers and engaged citizens through an innovative, student-centered, project-based curriculum.