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Board studies capital needs

Kelly Silva

— With approval from the Steamboat Springs School Board, Education Fund Board and Capital Commission, the district could be looking at land acquisition near Soda Creek Elementary and renovations to the middle school in the next five years.

Rick Denney, School District facilities director, prioritized the top three items on a list of major capital needs over the next five years.

Although Denney’s lists only are strong recommendations to the various boards, he said he is the only person who dealt with capital needs in the district.

“I prioritize these things in a concise manner. The capital commission has seen all this data but these are my priorities,” Denney said.

In order for these items to undergo consent, they have to be approved by the Capital Commission, the Education Fund Board and then the School Board.

“Many times they don’t agree with my recommendations,” Denney said.

Denney said the boards could agree to these priorities, they could reprioritize or they could disregard them altogether.

Denney prioritized that land acquisition near Soda Creek Elementary was most important, additional land acquisition at the Whistler site and acquire staff housing in an affordable housing area.

Denney and the School Board were not prepared to release information on specific of future land acquisition possibilities.

He also prioritized construction projects and said the middle school needs added classrooms, meeting rooms and an expanded cafeteria as the first priority.

Installing a ventilation system, Heating/Ventilation/Air Con-

ditioning or HVAC at Soda Creek Elementary, Strawberry Park Elementary and the middle school was second priority and third was adding a gym or cafeteria to Strawberry Park Elementary.

Denney said he and middle school interim Principal Tim Bishop recently walked through the campus to determine the problems and long-term solutions in terms of capital needs.

“I pointed out things that were crucial office space,” Bishop said. “Our administrative office needs to be fixed up. We don’t have room for everyone.”

Bishop said two situations exist where five teachers share one office, making it difficult for any of them to talk on the phone or have conferences.

At this point, the middle school staff meetings take place in a modular that seats 50 people. The current conference room holds six people.

Adding two to three more classrooms also would help with teacher office space, meeting space and a possible increase in student population. Currently, the middle school enrollment is 493.

“On the education level, it would be tremendous,” Bishop said. “A lot of this is a space issue.”

Bishop said another complaint he had was the locker room space for athletes. Students have to keep athletic clothes, equipment and bags in their hallway lockers with their textbooks because there are not enough.

Bishop said asking for all this and getting it may seem far-fetched but he and Denney agree all these changes are needed at some point.

Bishop said a true middle school idea is one that encompasses team efforts among teachers and students.

He said this couldn’t happen at the current middle school because it was built in 1981 as a junior high school.

School Board Vice President Paul Fisher said his first priority is land acquisition near Soda Creek due to the concerned safety issues for years.

School Board Secretary Tami Havener said her first priority is installing ventilation in the three schools.

“I think it’s not fair every year we have kids there under those conditions,” Havener said.

School Board President Dan Birch, present for his last study session on the board, said land acquisition near Soda Creek is his highest priority. District land acquisitions are made for an undetermined use with a potential to enlarge a current school.

“It may be made to make vehicular or pedestrian improvements,” Denney said.


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