The future of Durango school buildings in the spotlight, says 9-R supervisor – The Durango Herald

The district plans a Career Innovation Center to help students find career passions

Durango 9-R School District is looking for a permanent home for Big Picture High School, principal Karen Chaeser said. The school district sold the administration building, along with the attached high school building, to the Durango Fire Protection District. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Jerry McBride Profile / Durango Herald

Open space, large glazed windows, copious whiteboards and plentiful vertical sliding garage doors.

Those, accompanied by computer displays and machines such as 3D printers, laser cutting machines, and computer numerical control machines — devices known as CNCs that rely on programming to make precise, three-dimensional cuts in materials — are the features planned for Durango High supervisor Karen Chaeser said on Friday, the school’s next career innovation center.

She said the planned Innovation Center is meant to be a place for students to explore their career options in a practical way. The center aims to help students identify the skills and tasks in which they excel.

Similar “career path” projects are planned for Big Picture High School, which will be moved due to the sale of the Durango School District 9-R administrative building, attached to Big Picture, to the Durango Fire Protection District.

“All of these career paths will use this new facility to do some amazing, innovative work in the 21st century,” Chezer said.

Karen Chaeser, the new superintendent of Durango School District 9-R, is planning career paths at Big Picture High School that would encourage “brilliant, innovative 21st century work,” she said.

Jerry McBride / Durango Herald

The school district participates in several career path programs, such as the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative, which provides students with the opportunity to explore interactive on-site work environments where they can explore their career interests and form relationships with working professionals.

Another program the school district hopes will connect students to future job opportunities is Business Education Connection, a partnership between the school district and Animas High School, an independent school, that aims to provide students with career experience and local networking opportunities.

The eventual relocation of Big Picture High School is still under discussion, but Cheser said the school district is in talks with the Powerhouse Science Center about temporary relocation at the facilities it controls.

Cheezer said she can’t talk about the details because it’s still a work in progress.

“We found a way to build it (Miller Middle School) on the same campus while the students are still in the building,” Chaser said.

Cheeser said the architects tasked with designing the new design are building the new school building with plans to rearrange the track and field.

Details of the rearrangement have not yet been revealed.

Cheeser said the district is doing maintenance work throughout the school district, including new parking lots, roofing and other infrastructure updates.

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