Columbine High School may soon be razed and rebuilt, as public education officials in Colorado say the building remains a “source of inspiration” for potential gun violence, even 20 years on from the mass shooting there that left 13 people dead.
In an open letter to Columbine staff, students, parents and members of the Littleton community, Jason Glass, superintendent of Jefferson County public schools, floated the idea, which would require up to $70 million through a bond measure on a future ballot to finance demolition and construction.
The superintendent’s plan noted much about the school would remain the same. The Rebels would remain the school’s mascot and its students would still proudly don the school’s colors, blue and silver.
The school would also continue to be called Columbine High School, “honoring the pride and spirit the community has with the name,” Glass wrote, according to Reuters.
But the campus would exist just west of its current site, which Glass said “continues to serve as a source of inspiration for potential school shooters, and its lasting impact only seems to growing.”
He cited numerous instances where would-be or actual perpetrators of gun violence appeared to be fascinated with Columbine.
In 2010, 29-year-old twin sisters from Australia who traveled to Colorado and shot themselves at a local gun range in a suicide pact. One of the women survived.
Among their belongings was a copy of a news magazine cover depicting the victims of the Columbine killings as well as the two high school seniors who carried out the shooting.
He also noted the most recent incident, in which an 18-year-old Florida woman fatally shot herself after traveling to the area in April. The woman appeared obsessed with the shooting and killed herself days before its 20th anniversary.
The massacre at Columbine left 13 people dead and was the work of two seniors who killed 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives on April 20, 1999.
In addition to the numerous threats and hoaxes the school has dealt with over the years, the campus has become a sort of tourist attraction, as travelers have taken to snapping pictures of themselves and their children in front of the school and its sign.
“Twenty years ago, we never imagined that there would be people so infatuated with this tragedy years later,” the now-retired principal of Columbine during the shooting, Frank DeAngelis, 64, told Reuters.
Glass had sought DeAngelis’ opinion about his idea of demolishing the school, and DeAngelis thought it was a good idea, he said.
“Maybe moving the physical plant would alleviate some of the issues,” DeAngelis said.
Glass said the county Board of Education and administration’s discussions of the plan are “in the very preliminary and exploratory stages,” and they are currently seeking public feedback on the proposal.