Colorado school district says won't tear down Columbine High School, site of massacre

By Keith Coffman

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - Colorado school officials on Wednesday abandoned a $60 million proposal to raze and rebuild Columbine High School in an effort to discourage unwanted attention at the site of one the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

The superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, Jason Glass, last month floated the idea of demolishing and rebuilding Columbine in a letter to staff, students, parents and members of the surrounding Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado.

After receiving community response via an online survey, Glass said on Wednesday that the plan would not go forward.

"It is clear to me that no consensus direction exits to rebuild the school," Glass said in a written statement.

On April 20, 1999, two Columbine students armed with semiautomatic weapons and shotguns stormed the high school, fatally shooting a teacher and 12 classmates before committing suicide in the library.

Glass said in the June letter that Columbine remained "a source of inspiration" to other mass shooters, and that hoaxers and curiosity seekers have strained the school district's resources.

He cited numerous instances in which actual or would-be perpetrators of violence expressed a fascination with Columbine.

The week of the 20th anniversary of the massacre in April, an 18-year-old Florida woman who was obsessed with Columbine flew to Colorado and purchased a weapon, which triggered the shutdown of Columbine and other schools.

After a massive manhunt, the woman was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot in the mountains southwest of the school.

Glass had suggested an option of asking voters to approve a $60 million to $70 million bond issue to pay for demolition of the school and construction of a replacement just west of the current site.

About 60% of the nearly 7,000 respondents to the survey said they would not vote for a bond issue to fund demolition, the school district said in a statement.

"Those opposed to a rebuild expressed concerns about wastefulness and an unnecessary tax burden, as well as a belief that a rebuild would not fix the ... unauthorised access by curious or troubled individuals," Glass said in the statement.

The district said it would pursue other remedies using already-approved funds to possibly reconfigure the front of the building, which has been a magnet for picture takers, and to enhance security around its perimeter.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles and Richard Chang)