School Board seeks input

Forums will address specific questions about aging facilities

— The Steamboat Springs School Board plans to host another round of community forums to gauge public opinion about what to do with aging district facilities.

Given the sparse attendance at forums in the fall -- no residents attended a Nov. 14 forum at Steamboat Springs High School -- board member Denise Connelly said Monday that more public input will be needed as the board develops a long-term plan to improve facilities including Soda Creek Elementary School, Strawberry Park Elementary School and the George P. Sauer Human Services Center.

"We need more information from the community," Connelly said at a board meeting Monday night.

The entire board shared Connelly's sentiment and decided that this time around, the forums should address specific facility options rather than the general questions -- such as "What should be done with the human services center?" -- which was presented at the forums in the fall.

The board plans to create those options at its April 3 meeting, when district facilities director Rick Denney is scheduled to present cost analyses of several options for Soda Creek Elementary. A facilities study conducted last year said the 50-year-old school has numerous structural and layout problems, making it the district's top priority for improvement.

"That, from my perspective, is the first decision that has to be made," Superintendent Donna Howell said about what to do with the Soda Creek school.

Options include building a new elementary school on a plot of district-owned property in southeast Steamboat, tearing down Soda Creek and rebuilding a new school on the same site, renovating the school or leaving it as it is.

The board agreed Monday that presenting the public with the different costs, advantages and disadvantages of each option -- along with possible plans for short-term classroom space if Soda Creek is torn down or renovated -- would generate valuable community insight at the forums, which will occur after the April 3 meeting.

"We're on the same page," Connelly said about the board's plans to move forward.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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