Members of the Jefferson County School Board voted 4-1 Thursday night to replace the library, where 10 students were slain last April, with an atrium and build a new wing with a new library for the Littleton, Colo., school.
"We're saying to the world that life goes on; yes, life will be better," said School Board President Jon DeStefano.
Ten of the 13 victims in the April 20 massacre were slain by Columbine students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris in the library, where the gunmen took their own lives after their rampage. Two teachers and another student were fatally shot outside the library. The school reopened in the fall, but the library's doors have been sealed and students are using a temporary building instead.
Tom Mauser, who lost his son Daniel in the nation's deadliest school shooting, has said he dreaded the prospect of his 8-year-old daughter someday having to use the room where her brother was killed.
A group of Columbine parents and students, known as Healing of People Everywhere, proposed both the project and raising $3.5 million in private funds to pay for it, reports Correspondent Shawn Boyd of CBS station KCNC-TV. Dawn Anna, whose daughter Lauren died in the tragedy, said the group wants to lessen the trauma by removing any reminders of the library.
"This represents just the first step," she said.
Not all Columbine students, parents, and staff members agree.
"I feel their healing and recovery have been sold for $3.5 million," said Nancy Welsh, whose two sons were in the school when the shooting started.
Welsh's son Aaron was trapped for hours in the library and saw the rampage. In a letter to a local newspaper, Welsh, now a Columbine graduate, said the money should be spent on counseling, intervention and building security instead of "modifying a building that last year's eighth-graders won't know the difference in anyway."
The Welshes were among six parents who urged the board to seek more input before deciding whether to renovate the library or build a new one.
"Aaron said he needs to go back into the library to take back the library and the school and if he doesn't, those two will have won from the grave," his father Lyle Welsh told the board.
Mary Swanson, a part-time librarian at the high school, said she doesn't want the library moved far from the school's center, adding she and her colleagues were not consulted about the library's fate.
"The library is the heart of the school," Swanson said. "There are 1,926 students who need the library close to them."
School board member Michael Wade, the only no vote on the project, said he was upset that a community survey was not done on the idea.
"This has been a difficult process but I don't think any decision about Columbine has ben easy," DeStefano said.