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McWhinney Leases Building to Liberty Common
High school will be extension of original charter school

By Marcy Miranda

A Fort Collins charter school has teamed up with one of Northern Colorado's largest developers to open the doors for Fort Collins' newest high school.

McWhinney, a commercial and residential developer based in Loveland, an-nounced Wednesday it will lease a building at 2745 Minnesota Drive - slightly east of Drake Road and Timberline Road - to Liberty Common High School. Liberty Common High will open its doors for the first time to about 200 students Aug. 18, said Bob Schaffer, director of secondary instruction for the school.

"For us, we had looked at a variety of options, but having a building that was already built and zoned for a school and that is about a mile away (from the current school) made it an attractive property for us," Schaffer said.

Liberty Common High is an extension of Liberty Common School, one of two charter schools in Fort Collins contracted through Poudre School District. The high school will house seventh- through 10thgrade students next fall, leaving space in its current building, 1725 Sharp Point Drive, to add another track, Schaffer said. The original school is currently kindergarten through ninth grades.

The new building was constructed in 2003 to house Pioneer Charter School for Expeditionary Learning. The former Pioneer School later became Polaris Expeditionary Learning and became Poudre School District's 6-12 expeditionary school.

The partnership that developed between McWhinney, and Liberty Common helped encourage McWhinney's purchase of the building, said Dean Barber, vice president of development for Mc- Whinney.

"They were thinking about the building and looking at options; it became a partnership," he said. Because the building was already constructed as a school, most of the remodeling being done is strictly cosmetic, Barber said.

The 27,000 square-foot building has 14 classrooms, a library and a large multi-purpose facility, Barber said. The interior of the building will get painted Liberty's school colors of red, white and blue and will have lockers installed.

"We're also rebuilding the serving kitchen area more toward the way they serve food to their students," Barber said.

Schaffer also said the building will have locker rooms added for students to use during physical education classes.

Liberty Common's enrollment will increase to about 900 students with the addition of the high school, Schaffer said.

"It's going to go from a vacant building to a full school," he said.

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