Brad Meeks: Permanent solutions to expand potential of our students
For over five years, Steamboat citizens, the school board and district and school staff have been working on solutions for schools in our growing community.
Today, all of our traditional public schools are at or over capacity. Despite the challenges this presents, our district continues to shine. We were designated the third highest-performing district in Colorado this past fall, and our high school was recently ranked #27 out of 272 high schools in Colorado.
In Steamboat Springs School District, one way we measure our success is by the opportunities available to our students and the experience they have in our schools. As a small school district, we pride ourselves on offering many of the same opportunities — programs, classes, technology and equipment — found in larger districts.
However, every year there is an increasing risk that we will fall behind and so will our students. When a staff member brings forward an idea for a new course, sees something outside our district they think would benefit our students or wants to enrich a class or lesson with the latest equipment, we have to hesitate.
We have been as creative with space as we can at our elementary and middle schools, without bringing in more temporary classroom trailers. Our hallways are narrowed by partitions constructed for individual and small-group learning. Additional middle school classrooms have been created by shrinking other spaces. We lack, for example, the science labs we should have, and those we do have are not up to date.
Common spaces — hallways, cafeterias, gyms, locker rooms — are crowded, which affects students every day and is a barrier to the parents and grandparents who want to attend performances and events. The community is also affected as school programs and activities go into the evening — a time when our facilities would usually be available to outside groups and organizations — because we don’t have space to accommodate them during the school day.
In the past five years, enrollment has continued to grow, and our space issues have only worsened. We have applied one temporary solution after another.
Steamboat’s children — those who already live here or will live here in the next 10 to 20 years — deserve permanent solutions that expand their potential instead of limiting it. We must remember who we are doing this for as we examine the permanent solutions on the table. This is about the children of Steamboat Springs and the educational experiences they deserve.
Steamboat Springs School District superintendent
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