School Board to review survey results

— The Steamboat Springs School Board will review the results of a recent survey tonight.

The survey includes interviews with 303 Steamboat Springs voters, conducted by Hill Research Consultants June 4 through June 6. Along with questions about the performance of local schools, the interviews gauged possible voter response to a $600,000 mill levy override, or property tax increase, which the district could place on local ballots in November.

RBC director Dan O'Connell will publicly discuss results of the survey at tonight's School Board meeting. The meeting is also scheduled to include the presentation of a plaque to Steven Dawes, in honor of his late wife, Margaret "Poogie" Dawes, this year's Friend of Education; adoption of the school district's more than $24 million 2006-07 budget; adoption of a new grievance policy agreed upon with the Steamboat Springs Education Association; and the approval of several monetary gifts from the city's Education Fund Board, including more than $11,000 for computers and an Accelerated Reader program for North Routt Community Charter School.

A $600,000 mill levy override proposal would ask voters for less money than an override school district officials have previously considered, which could have asked voters for more than $20 million to fund a new facility to replace Soda Creek Elementary.

Fifty-six percent of respondents supported the smaller override. That support varies according to four possible uses for the $600,000, according to the survey results. Seventy-eight percent of respondents supported using the money to attract and retain quality teachers and staff, 75 percent supported maintaining small class sizes, 65 percent supported developing preliminary plans for renovating or replacing Soda Creek, and 45 percent supported using the money to evaluate the need to build new elementary schools.

When told that approving an override in November would technically not increase property taxes, because the school district is retiring old bond debts and taxes that a new override would replace, keeping property taxes at their current level, 68 percent of voters said they were more likely to support a new override.

School district officials held public forums about possibly renovating or replacing Soda Creek in November 2005, April and May. Public sentiment at the forums largely supported building a new school at the current Soda Creek site in Old Town. Superintendent Donna Howell and School Board President Tom Miller-Freutel said there is not enough time to properly prepare a $20 million override for November's ballot.

Howell has also said that not having an override on the ballot in November would make it more difficult to ask voters for a tax increase in 2007.

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