Our view: Worth the wait

The Community Committee for Education — CC4E — made a formal presentation to the Steamboat Pilot & Today Editorial Board last week outlining the four options the advisory group has determined offer the best options for Steamboat Springs School District’s future facilities improvement needs.

At issue:

CC4E has come up with four options that it believes could solve Steamboat School District’s building needs for the foreseeable future.

Our view:

The information compiled by the volunteer group is impressive and deserves careful consideration by the community and the school board.

Editorial board: February through May 2017

  • Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher
  • Lisa Schlichtman, editor
  • Jim Patterson, evening editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Steve Ivancie, community representative
  • Paul Stettner, community representative
  • Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

The information shared with us was well researched and complete, and we were impressed with the group’s work. Though we’re not ready to choose one option over the others, we are prepared to endorse the efforts of a committee of volunteers who have been working for a year to develop a plan for the district’s future and hopefully provide the school board with a viable option it can put before voters in November.

At times over the past year, we’ve been critical of CC4E. We were concerned the group was not moving fast enough and was getting bogged down with issues outside the group’s main purpose of advising the district on how it could best meet its facility needs moving forward.

But now that we’ve seen the results of their year-long effort, we admit we may have been a little impatient.

In particular, we are impressed with the information compiled by the facilities committee, headed up by Kevin Sankey, and by the presentation they have put together and are currently sharing with stakeholder groups in the district.

The subcommittee has looked at expanding current facilities, building new facilities and reconfiguring grades at various campuses in each of the four options. A cost estimate has been attached to each option and those estimates range from $41 million to $64 million. The district is currently estimating the operational mill levy that would be required to pursue each option.

Since narrowing the building options down to four, the facilities committee has conducted 60 presentations and reached out to 24 different groups. Based on the information that was shared with us, it is evident that CC4E listened to community input and has come up with several solutions, or pathways as they are being called, which have a chance of gaining voter support and helping the district meet the needs of its growing student population.

The group has tackled the issues of overcrowding, building maintenance, demographic projections and building capacity challenges, and all the information they have gathered, including a video of their facilities presentation, is available on the group’s very comprehensive website.

Currently, CC4E members are out making presentations to as many different groups as possible in advance of submitting a formal recommendation to the school board on May 8 about the direction CC4E believes the school district should take in November.

We appreciate that all of this work and research was completed by a group of volunteers, who have demonstrated tremendous dedication to the task laid before them.

Now, we think it's time for the community to do some work by investing some time to educate themselves on the four options CC4E has identified as pathways that could solve the district’s capacity needs, and ultimately, improve the educational environment for all students. It's the public's responsibility to review and analyze the options in advance of a potential bond issue election in November.

You can go online to cc4e.org and read about the committee’s work and the four options it is currently considering, or you can attend one of the community presentations the group will be giving over the next few weeks. One of those presentations will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3 at the Steamboat Pilot & Today as part of the newspaper’s monthly Coffee and a Newspaper event. Mark your calendar now and plan to attend.

Community comments

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(Russell scott) Russell828 says...

First of all, a big thank you to the volunteers. Having been a citizen volunteer a few years ago I understand the countless hours of hard work. My hope is that the community will give you your do respect.

It will be interesting to see the final cost of the plan that will be chosen in May. Some might remember that a large portion of the previous 90 million plan was for the current buildings.

Posted 19 April 2017, 8:42 a.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

I think the need for citizen committees having to do a lot of work is the result of administration and BoE failing to track important issues.

The school district should have been creating 5 year demographic projections every year. If they had been doing that then they would have learned how to do them correctly. The 2008 remodel of SCE was also based upon a botched demographics report that ignored recent births. If that he been a proper demographics report the it would have noticed all the recent local births and known then to add an elementary school. It was a bad mistake to spend so much on SCE only for it to be overcrowded the day that construction was completed.

Then the misguided Overlook proposal was also based upon a botched demographics report.

A good enough demographics report can be just a matter of putting in this year's enrollment and most recent birth data into a spreadsheet to get 5 year close enough projections.

It is just inexcusable for schools to get overcrowded and it be a surprise to the school district.

And now we are still trying to properly deal with overcrowding with knowledge that there are 2010-2015 births that are lower than peak years. And we now also have a rapidly growing Montessori charter school that is taking elementary and middle school students.

It is also just crazy that we are this deep into overcrowding before BoE even discusses the issue of OOD students and their impact upon overcrowding.

Also, it is not good facilities management that there was lots of work for facilities group to do on evaluating existing schools and potential school sites. What is the point of owning potential school sites without knowing how it would, if it could, be used for a school? Also, the district's previous assessment of Heritage Christian School was so inaccurate that it was either incompetent or deliberately misleading. Ironically, that error is coming back to haunt SSSD because Montessori is using HCS to get established.

Posted 19 April 2017, 12:53 p.m. Suggest removal

(Scott Wedel) Scott_Wedel says...

If school administration lacks the time or expertise to create annual demographics reports or ongoing facilities assessment then it should create permanent committees that provide annual updates on these important issues.

In tricky times such as now when there is a new charter school then the committees may ask for outside help or need to put in major efforts. But if district had been making good decisions so that 2008 construction basically met upcoming needs then it would be much simpler to make decisions now. If 2008 had built adequate elementary school capacity then today could be talking about using that now spare capacity to address middle school crowding.

Situation is so messed up now that growth of Montessori allows an option of basically letting this bubble of students finishing passing through the elementary and middle schools with minor changes and then having a period of being under capacity as the baby bust years progress through. Then, when/if there are more local births that will create crowding issues then build an elementary school before existing schools get overcrowded. Then when/if that future growth will be too large for the middle school then can look at level of continued growth and come up with an appropriate solution.

Posted 19 April 2017, 1:19 p.m. Suggest removal

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