Grace BEST, CREEKSIDE, AND BEAR CREEK
Grace Best Education Center is in downtown Monument, next to the current District Administration building. It was originally built in 1958 by the Air Force and expanded in 1987. In 2010, the District made the decision to close Grace Best as an elementary school due to lower student enrollment and state funding cuts. The state realized they didn’t have the funding available that school districts were promised and would cut actual funding amounts in an unpredictable way (this was known as “the rescission”). The rescission happened on top of the “Negative Factor” which had already significantly reduced the state constitutionally mandated funding level. Given this volatile financial situation, and recognizing that the District could serve its students with other existing building resources, D38 decided to close the oldest and least efficient school in the district.
The district converted Creekside Middle School (which opened in 2001) to a 950-seat Elementary school (becoming Bear Creek Elementary School) and moved 6th grade students into district elementary schools.
Since closing as a full-time school in 2010, the usable portions of the Grace Best building support programs such as the Transitions program, the Home School Enrichment Academy and other specialized district programs such as district AP testing and Battle of the Books. Grace Best is also used as the science kit work area. The gym is rented regularly for community programs like the Kiwanis Craft Fair. Find more information about Grace Best on the district website click here or here.
LONG RANGE PLANNING
The Long Range Facilities Planning Committee explored bringing Grace Best back online as a full-time elementary school. This is not practical because:
It’s not up to current code
It’s not big enough
It’s not located where we need seats.
It’s currently in regular use by key programs
The cost to tear down the old part of Grace Best, which has asbestos, and bring the rest back to current standards is expensive and is not a good use of limited dollars. The result would now accommodate 350 students but we need 650 seats just to handle current needs. Finally, downtown Monument is not where we need a school. The growth in the Jackson Creek area in past years is where families with young kids are concentrated. Bear Creek houses over 950 elementary students today. By building an elementary school in Jackson Creek and restoring Creekside as originally planned we can ease overcrowding in Lewis-Palmer Middle School as well as several elementary schools.
In addition to the Long Range Facilities Planning Committee’s recommendation, two separate architectural firms (RTA and CRP) working for the district examined Grace Best and recommended against pursuing its use, highlighting that it is simply not a good investment of financial resources. Monument Academy, the district charter school, also took a look at the building, considering purchasing it for expanding, and determined it wasn’t viable. The Board of Education is continuing to look at the best course of action for the Grace Best site. They have considered selling the property, renting, leasing, other uses or demolition, but need to ensure the current programs have a place to go.