Lead contamination a concern for new Ascent Classical Academy charter school, which plans to open in August at the former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building

 The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school this August. The sale of the building closed recently. It was listed for $7 million.
Ascent Classical Academy, a new charter school, plans to open in Grand Junction in August, 2023, in the building at 545 31 Road, that was formerly the Rocky Mountain Gun Club.
Parents contemplating sending their kids to this school should be concerned.
The building was used as an indoor shooting range for seven years, closing in 2021.
Lead contamination is a well-established problem at shooting ranges.

Derec Shuler, CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, in 2018 (Photo: YouTube)
Every time a bullet is fired, a puff of fine lead dust is emitted that gets onto floors, walls, countertops, door handles, the shooter’s clothing and, at indoor shooting ranges, into the ventilation system. Lead particles can be inhaled and ingested with food and drink. Elevated blood lead levels have repeatedly been found in recreational shooters who visit shooting ranges regularly, as well as employees of these ranges. Being exposed to lead contamination on an ongoing basis can have dire health effects. Professional remediation of these sites is an absolute necessity before they can be safely used for other activities.
The adverse effects of lead contamination on human health, especially on children, are well-documented.
According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on lead poisoning, “there is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.”
WHO writes:
Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health impacts, particularly on the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage.
This situation should be of concern to parents contemplating sending their kids to this school, especially since the District 51 School Board’s conservative majority voted recently to cede control of the charter school to the Charter School Institute, an out of town, state-level organization, as a way to bypass local input and forego control over it.
No one is taking responsibility or answering questions about possible lead contamination at the site.
I contacted ReMax realtor Amy Rogers, whose name appeared in an online ad for the old Rocky MountainGun Club building. Rogers said she was not the listing agent for the property, and said “It is always the buyer’s responsibility to do the due diligence. Perhaps reach out to the buyer?” She gave me the number of the selling agent, Ray Ricard, but Mr. Ricard did not return a voicemail left on March 21 asking for contact information for the buyer. I also left a voicemail on 3/21 for the CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, Derec Shuler, at (720) 728-6300, ext. 1, the number posted online, since he would likely have to have approved the purchase of the building for the school, but Shuler did not answer the voicemail as of the writing of this article.
The community deserves to know if the Ascent Classical Academy’s organizers are aware of the lead contamination problem at sites used as indoor shooting ranges, and that this problem is highly likely to exist at the property they just purchased for the school. Parents and the public should know if Ascent has a plan in place to remediate the building prior to it opening as a school this August, and if they plan to verify that the remediation was effective enough to assure the building is safe enough for children and adults to inhabit for hours every day for years on end.

  24 comments for “Lead contamination a concern for new Ascent Classical Academy charter school, which plans to open in August at the former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building

  1. Joe Burly…you are assuming the children who will attend Ascent will be brainwashed into not doing their own investigations into “other cultures”. I would assume they will be encouraged to study everything.
    I understand the skepticism about charter schools…is it even legal to have public funding for such an endeavor? In order to answer that question one would have to look at the history of the movement. From what I know, it was born out of a dissatisfaction with public schools, a belief that taxpayers parents should have a choice and a hope that competition can make everyone better.

    • I think it has also been borne out of billions of dollars being poured into conservative institutions by the very tippy top of the wealthiest people in the world. I personally find billionaires deciding the fates of our educational system very distasteful, whether they be “liberal” or “conservative” billionaires.

      I probably will not reply anymore. I appreciate your thoughts though. You seem like a thoughtful person. Have a nice day!

      • Funny that you think the billionaires at the top of institutions are conservatives…

        Thanks for the compliment.

        • Notice I said billionaires liberal or conservative. I would characterize the DeVoss and Walton families as quite conservative. They are two of the main funders of Hillsdale and the education “reform” movements.

        • Peter Thiel, Adelson, Koch, Mellon… the list goes on and on. I’m sure you have a similar “liberal” list, although I would argue back that the billionaires on your list are neo-liberals, and are not in any way progressive.

          This is why wealth inequality is the most urgent issue facing our society, but these same billionaires have convinced the majority of the country that they have “earned” billions of dollars and are the true arbiters of truth over any democratic process. And now that the (conservative) SCOTUS have erased any form of campaign finance regulation and have gutted the Voting Rights Act, money is the only form of political currency that matters any more.

  2. Parent informational meeting for Ascent Classical Academy is being held tonight at the Patterson Road Church of Christ. I think that says a lot, don’t you?

    • Rather suspicious isn’t it. Just like the Stand for the Constitution group meeting weekly in a church. There appears to be a correlation. I don’t have skepticism of charter schools. I fully support Independence Academy. I’m skeptical of a school that uses the curriculum written by a college who is based on Christian religious tradition and doesn’t take federal government grants so it doesn’t have to comply with provisions under Title IX of the laws governing higher education, which protects students from discrimination in housing, athletics, and access to facilities on the basis of such things as gender, sexual orientation, or sex outside marriage. They will only be encouraged to “learn” what fits Hillsdale College’s religious and political viewpoints. That is the definition of “grooming.” Take care.

      • Hillsdale College is part of a nation-wide christian organism with border-to-border tentacles, influencing education, K-graduate, law school admissions, clerkships, grooming for judgeships, including the GOP Supreme Court. Destroying church-state separation, and imposing upon all of us a christian society has been their goal for decades.

        What books can we read? What historical facts can not be taught? Which humans can walk the streets without being targets? What medications are made illegal by christian lay people?

        Grooming! The right wing accuses their foes of grooming. Christian Sharia, subsidized by tax-exempt status, right here in River City.

        Tax and regulate The Church, for god’s sake!

  3. What’s the big deal? Lead contamination?
    Jesus will protect those little income generators – er,

  4. Received this email today from Kim Gilmareting at kgilmartin@ascentclassical.org:

    “Hello Ms. Landman,

    My name is Kim Gilmartin and I am the Director of New Schools for Ascent. I received your inquiry about the Rocky Mountain Gun Club and your concern about lead contamination.

    Thank you for reaching out and being concerned about the safety and well-being of children in Grand Junction. We too, take the health and safety of children that families will entrust to our care very seriously.

    I wanted to respond and provide you with the steps that we are taking to ensure that the building is lead-free and 100% safe to operate as a school. We have a great team that is and will be working with the appropriate licensed agencies in Grand Junction. To that end, Ascent Classical Academy closed on the building located at 545 31 RD on March 15. All of the shooting range equipment and waste containment is currently being removed and properly disposed of, including the associated HVAC equipment. Upon removal of this equipment, the entire building will be tested on Tuesday March 28 by the Vertex Companies, a nationally known environmental testing agency. Vertix will oversee the process of removing any remaining lead if found, and oversee thorough cleaning of the building by licensed environmental engineers. Upon completion of any cleaning, subsequent testing by Vertex will assure a lead-free environment for the entire building. Full testing reports will be available upon request.

    After all remediation is complete, we will begin construction of the inside of the school. We are thrilled to bring a tuition-free classical education to the families of Grand Junction (and surrounding areas). This has been an effort two years in the making and it is exciting to see it come to fruition this year.

    Again, thank you for your concern and interest, and I’m happy to answer additional questions.

    Warm regards,


    • How disappointing for some of your readers that Ascent addressed your concerns in such a thorough and professional way.
      If I didn’t know better, I’d think this organization may be wonderful for Grand Junction students.

        • No, Alice is saying that she does know better, and that this organization will not be wonderful. She would think it was wonderful if she didn’t know better, but she does. And it won’t be. 😉

          It will be really good for Derec Schuler’s pocketbook though.

        • Golden View Classical Academy is where Mrs. Gilmartin’s children attend or have attended. It uses the Hillsdale College curriculum. I found a comment about the school by a mother of a student there that was both positive and negative. “You really need to buy into the classical model. You’ll know everything about ancient Greece but very little about the modern world. The parents are almost exclusively white, religious Republicans. If you don’t fit that mold you you’ll have a hard time feeling comfortable at this school. There is way more talk of god at this school than appropriate, but it’s all classical! Kids cry when they are taught evolution – really! There it’s almost no sex education – only abstinence. My child thinks it’s normal to talk about god so much at a public school. Still, most of the upper school teachers are really good. The grammar school is much more spotty and they are mostly very religious. Regardless, the teachers seem to care and work harder than typical public schools including sponsoring sports and clubs.” It appears to be a perfect fit for many here in Grand Junction.

          • It will be a perfect fit, but I for one would love to not drain funds from our public schools to pay for religious private schools. But I guess that’s the way the wind blows.

          • That’s an interesting observation.
            Without going too deep, I would characterize Hillsdale’s philosophy to be that to understand the modern world one must understand what has come before.
            I hope that the parents who opt into Ascent pay attention and hold its feet to the fire.

            Also…a classical education is not for everyone

            And…I’d like to know how they handle the study of evolution. I think I’ll inquire.

          • Alice – When understanding what has come before it is important to gain a broader understanding of the world, not just Judeo-Christian Greco-Roman classical history. It is important to gain an awareness that the majority of human history and the majority of humans have not been Judeo-Christian or Greco-Roman. This is a thinly veneered attempt to insert Christianity back into public schools.

  5. Enjoy your research as always. Reading through the report you cited: Indoor Firing Ranges and Elevated Blood Lead Levels — United States, 2002–2013 April 25, 2014 / 63(16);347-351, I wondered if gun club lead exposure is complicit in gun violence. It sounds like children’s presence in gun clubs could be classed as child abuse. Family and children’s shooting days/times are popular add on money makers for gun clubs.

  6. It’s also the seller’s obligation in almost all states to disclose unhealthy, toxic, dangerous conditions and especially if they are a hidden kind of condition that may not be seen in an inspection, and also fill out a statement as to the state of the property. In addition some states require the seller to complete a statement that property up to code, which could involve presence of lead in/on the property. I’m surprised the seller agent did not also mention these obligations, since she mentioned an obligation of the buyer to use due diligence. Probably her best answer would have been, I am a fiduciary and cannot disclose information about a client’s transaction. Thank you for posting this information in this article.

    • The State of Colorado does not require the seller or Real Estate agent to disclose uranium tailings on a property or radioactively contaminated wells ( Canon City). Real estate agents can voluntarily access this information from the CDPHE UMTRA office at 6th and Colorado Ave. Grand Junction but personal Due Diligence is the standard in our State .

  7. Anne I think you could stay very busy investigating Derec Shuler and Ascent Classical Academies.

    As if you don’t have anything else on your plate! Thanks for your work.

  8. Charter school proponents are often aware of cherry-picking some students, refusing certain groups of students, while siphoning off taxpayer dollars, doing religious indoctrination, all in a milieu of non-certified teachers. Ignoring environmental hazards in a charter school might not be a problem for some of these proponents.

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