New elementary discussed

Parents looking at possible option in Stagecoach

— Stagecoach parents are invited to a meeting tonight to discuss educational possibilities. Two mothers, Michelle Petix and Tracy Zuschlag, are interested in starting an elementary school closer to their homes and want to find out if the need and the desire exists among other area parents.

The meeting is an unofficial discussion of the idea and a chance to inform parents of their current schooling options. No formal proposal has been made and the Soroco School Board has not been approached with the idea, board president Robert deGanahl said.

Petix and Zuschlag did not want to comment until after the meeting.

Stagecoach is part of the South Routt School District. Stagecoach children are bused to Soroco Elementary School in Yampa. Parents who choose to send their children to Steamboat Springs schools must drive them there.

Soroco Elementary serves students from Yampa, Phippsburg, Oak Creek and Stagecoach.

The South Routt School District was unable to give exact figures of students busing from Stagecoach because parents' mailing addresses were Oak Creek post office boxes.

Before a Stagecoach elementary proposal can go forward -- if indeed parents decide they want to go forward -- the question of numbers will have to be addressed, Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Cyndy Simms said. While the proposal is not in front of the Steamboat Springs School District, Simms went through a similar process in recent years that ultimately led to the creation of the North Routt Community Charter School in 2001.

"(Stagecoach) will need to reach a critical mass before adding another school," Simms said. She defined a critical mass as 100 students.

Once parents have identified a need for an additional school, Simms said, they will need to ask what the impact on the elementary school in Yampa will be.

It is not unusual for parents to initiate these kinds of conversations, Simms said.

"Sometimes they have even been initiated by developers," she said. "It can come from anyone."

If parents decide to go forward, they must first approach Superintendent Steve Jones and then take a proposal to the school board.

Jones could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

If they want a building for their new school, the group will have to approach the taxpayers.

"But that's a long way down the road," Simms said.

South Routt taxpayers voted to double their property taxes last May to fund a new firehouse in Stagecoach, new fire and EMS equipment and a salary for a full-time fire chief.

It may be a while before South Routt taxpayers are willing to bankroll another project.

"We just passed a tax measure," deGanahl said. "I'm not sure we'll be doing any more building for a while.

"It's really not on the drawing board right now," he said. "I know a previous board drew up a plan for if there ever is a need, but I'm not sure that there is a need yet."

Anyone with input or interest is invited to attend the meeting at 6 p.m. today in the meeting room of the Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation building in Stagecoach.

For more information, call Michelle Petix at 736-2777 or Tracy Zuschlag at 736-0025.

-- To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210

or e-mail aphillips@steamboatpilot.com

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