The Children’s Kiva Montessori School has applied for a conditional use permit from the city of Cortez in order to be able to take up temporary residence downtown while its building on North Mildred Road site undergoes renovations.
The charter school is looking to establish a K-8 school in two locations: at 25 N. Beech St. and 215 N. Linden St., according to the Cortez Planning and Zoning Commission. The school’s permanent home at 601 N. Mildred Road is being cleared of asbestos, and students will lose their current temporary classrooms at Crow Canyon Archaeology Center when it opens in March.
“The Children’s Kiva Montessori staff believe both buildings are a very temporary location for their school,” wrote associate planner Neva Connolly in a staff report.
The issue is up for a public hearing at the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday night.
Both sites are zoned Central Business District. The Beech Street property is across the street from the Good Samaritan Center and Southwest Farm Fresh, and the Linden Street site is about four blocks west. All schools require a conditional use permit in any zoning district because they could potentially impact nearby neighborhoods.
The Beech Street building was previously used as the Kiva Montessori School from 2015 to 2017, and the Linden Street building formerly housed Goal Academy, according to Connolly.
Kiva officials say that the Beech Street building will be used for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, with an expected 40 to 47 students and six to eight adults on site. The Linden Street location, they say, will hold 10 to 15 students in grades six through eight, with two staff members on site.
In total, Kiva proposes a maximum enrollment of 63 students combined.
As part of their application, Kiva officials submitted pickup and drop-off circulation plans for each site. At the K-5 Beech Street location, the school will mostly follow procedures established from its prior occupation of the building a few years ago, with students being dropped off on North Street.
“Students will not gather at 18 N. Beech to be walked over as a group; instead, a staff member will be present at the drop-off/pick-up area, and another present at the crosswalk to assist students across Beech Street to the building,” Connolly wrote.
At 215 N. Linden St., Kiva officials say that pick-up and drop-off traffic will travel northbound on Linden, with students unloading from vehicles on the sidewalk on the east side of the building.
According to staff, the school meets the parking requirements determined by Land Use Code. The law requires the school have two spaces per 20 students – the maximum 63-student enrollment would demand Kiva provide seven spaces.
The school listed six parking spaces available at 215 N. Linden, and 12 that can be used for the 25 N. Beech St. site, the latter leased from a vacant lot at 120 E. Main St., across the street from Gustavo’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar. So they do meet the seven-space requirement, Connolly said, although they do need to receive a parking special exception from the Planning and Zoning Commission, since parking is off-site.
Staff judged the proposed use would be compatible with the surrounding area, as the buildings’ occupation would be temporary, and Kiva officials say they don’t plan on changing the exterior.
“However, impacts to parking and traffic circulation should be considered,” Connolly wrote in the report. “With a facility that is educational in nature, traffic circulation will have its peak times of day during which students are being dropped off and picked up.”
Stacey Weyand, a Kiva board member, said the school expects to occupy the two locations through spring. She said that the North Mildred Street renovations are “coming along well.”
Kiva closed its site at North Mildred Road in November after testing revealed elevated levels of asbestos the building, causing Kiva to move to Crow Canyon for its classes.
Asbestos, however, was just one challenge the charter school encountered this past fall. In November, a financial auditor found that the charter school had dipped into a fund designated by law for emergency use, and that the school was nearing its minimum enrollment, concerning because state funding is allocated on a per-pupil basis.