Some local residents have a vision for Ignacio's old elementary school downtown, currently serving as the interim high school.
They want the school to become Ignacio's equivalent of the Smiley Building in Durango, which provides space for assorted community groups and start-up businesses. It used to be a junior high school.
Kasey Correia from Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center in Ignacio, and Natalie Howard from Silver Spruce Academy, made their proposal to the Ignacio School Board on March 19. Silver Spruce is a non-profit program currently based in Gem Village. It provides resources and enrichment activities for home school students.
Howard said they held a community meeting on Feb. 9 "to see if there was interest if the building came available." Twenty-six people from 15 organizations attended, she said. Five participants showed serious interest, while 16 looked at possible rental space, she said.
These could be for music, art, cooking, or other classes and activities, Howard said. "The Smiley Building is owned by an individual, and people rent from him. This would be owned by the school district," she said.
Correia added, "We're just very excited. We've done a lot of homework. We have a grant writer who did a lot of research. We want to make sure it's successful." It could support the schools with after-school activities, she said. "We think this could be a great win-win situation for everyone."
She noted that Dancing Spirit operates a therapeutic art program and works with Susan Livingston from Skills for Living and Learning in Bayfield. "It helps the kids express themselves in a positive way," Correia said.
Howard said, "We've discussed what our management responsibility would be. We'd like the district to do the maintenance, and we pay rent." She asked for a district decision by August.
"We are looking at some long-term leases." Howard said. "Five of us want three-quarters of the building." The other one-fourth is the kitchen, gym, central garden, and the playground, and people would pay to use those, she said.
Correia suggested a community garden like at the Pine River Library in Bayfield, as well as rooms for pottery and music.
Howard said it would be "a maker space." The Ignacio Community Library offers that, but Howard said they are running out of room.
Board member Troy Webb said he wants to see a written draft agreement for this. "That should be the next step," he said.
Board president Toby Roderick indicated they would discuss it in executive session under real estate.