Menu Close

Roncalli STEM Academy may close after this school year. Here’s why

Roncalli STEM Academy may close after this school year. Here's why
Roncalli STEM Academy could close following the 2023-24 school year due to a deteriorating HVAC system in the aging school building.

Pueblo School District 60 board members unanimously voted to explore closing the South Side middle school during a March 18 board meeting. Robert Lawson, the district’s executive director of facilities and construction management, highlighted the issues plaguing the 59-year-old school building prior to the board’s vote.

“The most recent cost estimate indicates that the school will require over $38 million in building renovations, with that figure now being even higher due to the escalation in building materials and supplies cost,” Lawson said.

Roncalli STEM Academy
Roncalli STEM Academy

The HVAC system at Roncalli consists of water pipes that are used for both heating and cooling. In November 2023, Pueblo D60 facilities staff filled the school’s piping system with 1,000 gallons of the anti-freeze glycol to prepare for the winter months. However, glycol levels plummeted within the next few days.

“Beyond the 1,000-plus gallons of glycol that has leaked, the system is losing an average of 700 gallons of water per day that is leaking somewhere under the school,” Lawson said.

In addition to significant leaks in the school’s HVAC system, Roncalli is in need of extensive asbestos abatement, roof repairs and interior demolition to install new HVAC equipment, among other repairs, according to Lawson’s March 18 report.

“The school will not be able to safely operate for another school year without a significant health and safety risk to the students and staff,” Lawson said. “The potential for mold growth from the water leaks, the loss of heating and cooling, and the potential for structural damage to the building will make it unoccupiable.”

Roncalli began as an all-boys Catholic high school in 1965. Six years later, the Diocese of Pueblo announced the closure of ten Catholic schools, including Roncalli High School. Roncalli was subsequently sold to Pueblo D60 and repurposed as a public middle school serving students in the southwest corner of the city.

Declining enrollment and the need for costly repairs eventually led to Roncalli being identified as one of three schools recommended for closure in a 2018 district-commissioned master plan. Bradford Elementary and Carlile Elementary were the other two schools recommended for closure in the report.

Plans to close the three schools were scrapped in 2020, but HVAC system and roof damage led to the emergency closure of Carlile in 2021.

What happens if Pueblo D60 decides to close Roncalli?

After a vote to explore the closure of Roncalli, the Pueblo D60 board will be working with Superintendent Charlotte Macaluso to consider the feasibility of closure as it relates to the school’s educational programs, enrollment, building, capacity, student transportation, academic success and facility conditions.

If a recommendation to close a school is developed by the superintendent and board, district policy requires that the district notify parents and students about the school’s reasons for closure, alternative educational offerings and transportation arrangements.

The policy also requires the district to notify staff of transfer opportunities and collaborate with schools that will be receiving displaced students. Schools slated for closure are slated by district policy to close at the end of the school year, but an “emergency closure” could cause a school to be closed even sooner.

“If emergency conditions dictate that a school be closed during the regular school year, the Board shall allow the Superintendent a minimum of one month, as permissible, to implement the Board’s order to close a school,” according to Pueblo D60 policy.

Once a closed school is vacated, the board will decide what to do with the school building and property. During his presentation to board members, Lawson indicated that Pueblo D60 staff recommends that the Roncalli building be razed and its property be retained for future use.

International science fair: Pueblo South students’ research earns spot at International Science and Engineering Fair

Pueblo Chieftain reporter James Bartolo can be reached at Support local news, subscribe to The Pueblo Chieftain at

This article originally appeared on The Pueblo Chieftain: Here’s why Roncalli STEM Academy in Pueblo, Colorado, may close

Source link

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *