Teachers concerned for students’ safety at Cañon City Middle School

CAÑON CITY, Colo  —  Asbestos, a failing structure, and classrooms with no heat or air conditioning are just a few of the problems Cañon City Middle School is facing.

That’s why the District is hoping this November, voters will say ‘yes’ to their ballot question.

Back in May, Cañon City Middle School was accepted for a ‘Building Excellence Schools Today’ grant, which is better known as ‘BEST.’

It’s funded through marijuana tax dollars, but won’t be given to Cañon City unless they’re able to match the $5 million grant, with an additional $2.5 million.

They hope to collect the money through a Property Tax increase, a ballot question that will go to voters this November.

The middle school was built in 1925 and once served as a  high school.

In its current condition, the floors are cracking, the structure is falling apart and the building’s stairs are a concern for ADA compliance standards.

“I just worry about their safety, teaching Special Education, we may have kids that are in wheelchairs that it’s kind of hard for them to get up to our rooms,” said Amber Withers, a Special Education Teacher at Cañon City Middle School.

With the building’s structure falling apart, asbestos has become a big concern too.

“What each School District is required to do, is to have an Asbestos Plant identify where things are and we’ve done that. You don’t have to remove it, you have to encapsulate it and we’ve done our best to do that,” said George Walsh, Superintendent of Schools, Cañon City School District.

According to teachers, heat and air conditioning are a concern too, as some classrooms don’t have either.

According to the superintendent, the student-to-classroom ratio will also be exceeding limits this year.

The Cañon City School District says they’re even more concerned about Washington Elementary, saying a structural study found last year the building would only be safe for five more years.

Additionally, the District says this grant is essential to not only fixing the the middle school, but making sure the elementary school is fixed up too.

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