District revising boundaries

Steamboat Springs School District officials hope that re-balancing their director districts will not only bring the school system into compliance with state law but also will prevent the necessity for a similar effort for six more years.

The school district legally is obligated to review its director district boundaries once every four years. Steamboat schools use a director district setup to establish boundaries for representation on the School Board. One person from each of the district's five director districts is elected to serve on the board.

If, during evaluation of the director districts, the school system determines that each director district doesn't have substantially the same population as the other districts, re-balancing is required. The school district realized it hadn't complied with state law after Colorado Mountain College officials requested, before the November 2003 elections, the district's most recent changes to its director districts.

At a September School Board meeting, Superintendent Donna Howell said it appeared the district hadn't balanced its director districts in at least six years.

Mike Holloran, an attorney for the school district, and members of his staff recently determined population data for each of the school's currently configured director districts using 2000 Census information. Holloran discovered large discrepancies in the populations between some of the director districts and, in a letter to Howell dated Dec. 12, advised district officials to meet with him to discuss how best to redraw district boundaries.

"It makes sense to do it right at this time," Howell said. "I would hope we'd be able to finish it within a month."

School Board members Pat Gleason and Jeff Troeger volunteered at the board's Jan. 12 meeting to meet with Holloran to determine the district's best course of action.

Howell said Holloran and his staff will put together a couple of options for the district for re-balancing the districts.

"The majority of the work has been done," she said, referring to Holloran's effort to determine the current population residing within each district. "We've got the information, so it's just a matter of how we'll re-balance it."

The re-districting effort, once complete, should prevent the district from having to do it again until after the next census in 2010, Howell said. She also said she doesn't think re-balancing the districts will affect the standing of the current School Board members.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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