Adam Maines: Reader encourages vote
Move the high school? Wait a minute; I purchased my house with a vision of my kids biking to school.
As a five-year resident of Steamboat and a parent of children entering the school system, I was happy to hear about this investment in the community but was not initially in favor of the plan.
Let me try to describe my thought process (a slightly less convoluted version) that started with outright objection and turned into excitement for the plan and the potential benefits for our kids.
I originally heard about the plan this past spring when I was invited to one of the school board community discussions. There were several options up for discussion but the popular one appeared to be the plan that we will be voting on this fall.
Move the high school away from where I live; there must be a better solution? My first thought looking at the list of options on the handout was, why don’t we build an elementary or K-8?
An elementary school doesn’t solve the middle school problem. OK, how about a K-8? Hmm, K-8 is a big age range at the same school, I wonder if this would be an issue? I have not heard of many K-12 schools maybe for the same reason … Also, the Steamboat student population is small for a second middle school (contained in the K-8).
The middle school kids in the K-8 would be a smaller group compared to Strawberry Park Middle School. They likely would have fewer resources or shared resources with the other middle school, and sports programs would probably be combined between middle schools so kids may not practice at their school.
This doesn’t sound like an ideal solution, and if we make room for more students at lower grades, don’t we think it will result in a need for more space in the high school in five to 10 years? Probably sooner if you consider parking and field space at the high school.
Wow, $92 million is a lot of money for our community to spend. Is there any way we can spend less now and come up with a temporary solution for a few more years?
Oh, right, interest rates and construction costs are low now and likely to be higher if we wait. We don’t want to build something that will be old before it’s fully utilized, but we also don’t want to be short sighted. I hear we have made this mistake in the past.
If we built a K-8 for $75 million (including $14M for capital renewal of other schools), maybe one third of Steamboat students will attend that school, but if we build a new high school, all students will attend and benefit from the new school at some point.
In addition, it sounds like the high school of 30-plus years ago would be of great benefit for middle school students. Science labs, gym, auditorium, athletic fields are all upgrades when compared to the current middle school.
So, if we build a K-8 now, in five to 10 years will we be able to solve the high school problems for $17M (the additional cost we could spend now)?
Although I really wanted to find a plan that didn’t involve moving the high school, the new high school was sounding like the best plan. I know there will not be a solution that makes everyone happy, but I think this solution provides the best option for students with minimal downside.
Please join me in voting yes on 3A and 3B.
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