By Lauren Rearick
Columbine High School could soon be torn down.
In a letter to the community of Columbine, Colorado, school district superintendent Jason Glass proposed demolishing and rebuilding Columbine High School, the building where two perpetrators killed twelve students and one teacher in 1999. At the time, the attack was the deadliest school shooting in United States history; other perpetrators have since killed more people during other mass attacks. A continued “morbid fascination” with the high school building in particular has Glass considering a possible demolition of the high school, The Denver Post reports.
In a letter sent to Columbine community members on Thursday, June 6, Glass proposed asking taxpayers to fund the build of a new school, CNN reports. To complete the proposed build, voters would need to approve an additional $60 million in funding; $15 million for a renovation was approved last year, ABC News reports. As part of the proposal, Columbine would be demolished and rebuilt near the current site; the school name, colors, and mascot would remain the same. The district also intends to preserve Hope Library, which was rebuilt after the shooting.
Glass also noted an increase in interest surrounding the school this year, CNN reports, and he wants to curtail outside visits. “The school site continues to serve as a source of inspiration for potential school shooters, and its lasting impact only seems to be growing," Glass wrote. "Perhaps influenced by the 20th anniversary of the shooting, over the past 11 months the number of people trying to enter the school illegally or otherwise trespassing on school property has been increasing – now to record levels."
Glass noted that most interest in the school is “harmless” but stressed that when the attack occurred, experts did not yet fully understand the impact of keeping the building operational. “Today school safety experts recommend tearing down buildings where school shootings take place,” he wrote. “Since the morbid fascination with Columbine has been increasing over the years, rather than dissipating, we believe it is time for our community to consider this option for the existing Columbine building." ABC News notes that Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of a 2012 school shooting by a perpetrator who killed 20 children and 6 adults, was torn down; Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, has also considered demolishing the building where a perpetrator killed 17 people in 2018.
Frank DeAngelis, who was principal at Columbine High during the 1999 attack, told The Denver Post he was in favor of a rebuild. “You look at what has happened, nationally and internationally, and there are still references to Columbine,” he said. “I don’t think anyone 20 years ago anticipated that in 2019 we’d be talking about this fascination with Columbine High School.”
William Beck, a student survivor, told CNN he “hated” the idea of demolition, saying, “Even though something bad happened there, it is a special place to me. It'd be devastating to lose it."
The letter from Glass noted that district officials are still “in the very preliminary and exploratory stages” of a rebuild, KDVR reports. District officials spent $1.2 million on renovations after the 1999 attack.