CHEYENNE – Paving the way for a new fifth- and sixth-grade Laramie County School District 1 school, the Cheyenne City Council annexed and rezoned a plot of land southeast of the intersection of Powderhouse Road and East Carlson Street at its meeting Monday night.
It was the first regular council meeting under Mayor Patrick Collins, and the first regular council meeting that has happened in person since COVID-19 struck in March. Wearing masks and maintaining a safe social distance, the governing body sprawled the stage at the Cheyenne Civic Center and discussed city business without a technology barrier between them.
It also was the first time the council livestream had a sign language interpreter to make the meeting more accessible.
“I’d like to compliment everyone who has worked on moving us over here; I think this is a much better arrangement,” Councilman Pete Laybourn said.
As for the new LCSD1 school, the 17-acre plot north of Frontier Mall will become home to Coyote Ridge Elementary School. The council annexed the land from the county into the city, then changed the zoning from County A-1 Agricultural and Rural Residential to Public District.
“We’re in the planning stages now. We’re hoping that we can get the plan through the School Facilities Commission before spring, and then we would be out to bid,” LCSD1 Superintendent Boyd Brown said, adding that he’s thankful to the state commission for approving funding for the project.
Brown also said the need for the new school is due to the growth in the district; 2019 marked the first year the district saw more than 14,000 students enrolled.
While that number dropped this school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the district observed steady growth prior – increasing 9.35% between the 2012-13 school year and 2019. Additionally, elementary students count for a good portion of enrollment, with K-6 accounting for 46% of all students, according to a November district report.
On the planning side, the main concerns from the council stemmed from traffic issues with the school being located off Powderhouse. Still, Planning and Development Director Charles Bloom said the city has been working with the district to find safe solutions.
“Through the site planning process, we have worked with (the district) to start to increase stacking areas for student drop-off; and there are some discussions about how we handle left and right turns into the school off of Powderhouse,” Bloom said, noting the potential for an additional traffic signal that could be jointly funded by both the city and the school district.
With a cautious eye to future traffic planning, the council approved both the annexation and rezoning unanimously.
Councilman Bryan Cook said, “I feel like this is certainly a worthwhile project, but again, the traffic issues are going to be something that we’re going to need to keep an eye on.”
This story first appeared online at WyomingNews.com and on the WyoNews app at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11.