Aging school buildings looming issue for Hayden School District
Steamboat Springs — The Routt County Board of Commissioners hosted a meeting of municipal officials and educators working with students from preschool to college Monday, where the conversation was dominated by the fiscal challenges being faced by the Hayden and South Routt school districts.
Hayden School Board President Brian Hoza told the gathering that his district is faced with the need to upgrade its buildings and he added that the facilities have reached the point that building new buildings would make more economic sense than trying to repair the older facilities.
“We have failing buildings,” Hoza said. “People at the Colorado Department of Education are verifying that we’re near the bottom of districts in the state as far as deteriorating facilities. That’s going to create an interesting collision in coming years.”
Noting that the district has won voter approval for two mill levy overrides to help fund the school district in recent years, Hoza said he’s not sure where the money for new facilities will come from.
“In the next couple of years, it will probably be necessary to consider capital improvements or we’ll be throwing good money after bad in terms of trying to keep (the older buildings) operational,” he said.
County Commissioner Tim Corrigan, a former school board president in the South Routt School District, said the fiscal challenges there stem from the well-documented loss of students whose parents choose to enroll their students in Steamboat, which results in a loss of per-pupil funding from the state.
What worries Corrigan is that the exodus will become a negative feedback loop that subtracts from the vitality of the community.
“The kids we’re losing from the school district are on average higher achieving than those left behind,” Corrigan said. “That lowers achievement scores over time and that makes parents,” even more inclined to send their students to Steamboat.
Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks said his staff has studied the 129 students who have come from both South Routt and Hayden to attend classes in Steamboat and concluded that 13 are children of Steamboat district employees and 97 have at least one parent employed in Steamboat.
Kathy Kiser-Miller, Colorado Mountain College vice president and dean of the Steamboat Springs campus, told the gathering that CMC is in consultation with Colorado Northwestern Community College to collaborate on course offerings and resources in South Routt, which is outside the CMC boundaries and inside the CNCC boundaries.
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