CC4E recommends $31M bond to update Steamboat Springs School District facilities |

CC4E recommends $31M bond to update Steamboat Springs School District facilities

Teresa Ristow

Soda Creek Elementary student Eva Minotto colors on the first day of school in 2014.

— A community group that's spent more than a year studying the needs of the Steamboat Springs School District is recommending an estimated $31 million bond to address the district's most immediate facilities needs.

The Community Committee for Education, or CC4E, told the school board Monday that the money could be used to build an addition to Steamboat Springs High School and update the school's artificial turf and track, build a gym for Strawberry Park Elementary and take care of millions in deferred maintenance.

The recommendation from CC4E is not one of four options presented by the committee during community forums over the last several months but instead is a more fiscally conservative approach that the group acknowledged would likely be followed by a second phase in the future.

"We know that there's going to be people frustrated that we're not doing more now," said Bette Vandahl, chair of CC4E. "But there's also going to be people that are going to be happy that we've been conservative in our approach."

The new high school pod would include science lab space and increase the overall school capacity from 875 to 1,100 students.

In addition to a $31 million bond, the CC4E recommendation includes a $350,000 annual mill levy override to cover costs like additional utilities and upkeep.

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All of the numbers associated with the recommendations are estimates and will be verified by the district owner’s representative, NV5, which the board approved the hiring of during the meeting.

A handful of community members weighed in on CC4E's presentation, praising their work and vocalizing support or opposition about some of the proposed options, including the idea to build a new elementary school at the district's Whistler Road site. Some community members also brought up concerns that the school board might still be interested in the Overlook site, despite it being a component of the failed 2016 bond.

"Please, please pick a plan that can pass, get community buy-in and choose to move forward," parent Jon Wade told board members.

Board members chose not to comment on the committee's recommendation Monday but instead plan to discuss the group's work at its meeting on May 15.

A third elementary?

Nearly three years after a demographer said the district would soon need a third elementary school, CC4E members said Monday that a fresh look at demographic data and the opening of Mountain Village Montessori Charter School has changed the landscape.

CC4E members said the Montessori school expects to have 140 kindergarten through sixth-grade students next year.

"Montessori is sort of alleviating the need for a third elementary right now," said Mary Darcy, a CC4E member who led the committee's demographics subcommittee.

While elementary schools are at or over capacity today, Darcy said there was a drop in the county's birth rate between 2012 and 2014, which could lead to fewer elementary school students in the coming years.

Additional recommendations

In addition to a $31 million bond, CC4E is also recommending the district pursue historical designation for its Seventh Street building and consider working with the Boys & Girls Club to secure private fundraising for building improvements.

The group also recommended the board designate a citizens oversight group to ensure bond funds are used as promised.

CC4E members described the $31 million bond as phase one and said the plan could be closely followed by a second phase of collaborative work between the district and committee.

That second phase could include further study of the owned and available properties for future development and could lead to a second bond for additional facilities upgrades potentially including the construction of a new school.

The school board is expected to hold a work session to review CC4E's recommendations at 5 p.m. Monday, May 15 at Centennial Hall and potentially take action on a plan at its June 19 meeting.

What’s included in $31 million?

$12.7 million deferred maintenance to schools

$5.1 million maintenance to Seventh Street building

$5.7 million addition at Steamboat Springs High School

$3.3 million new gym at Strawberry Park Elementary School

$750,000 remodeling at Steamboat Springs Middle School

$3.3 million in updates and new gym, requested by North Routt Community Charter School

Estimated cost to taxpayers

Estimated costs for property owners if the Steamboat Springs school board were to pursue a $31 million bond this November.

Bond: $30-40 million

Residential tax impact: $70 to $100 per $500,000 of assessed value

Commercial tax impact: $520 to $620 per $500,000 of assessed value

Mill levy override: $350,000

Residential tax impact: $15 to $17.50 per $500,000 of assessed value

Commercial tax impact: $60 to $65 per $500,000 of assessed value

Facilities options considered:

CC4E presented community members with six options for facilities over the last several months. The committee agreed on the top four options.

Option 1: Expand all district schools

Option 2: Expand Steamboat Springs High School and Steamboat Springs Middle School, purchase and renovate former Heritage Christian School

Option 3: Expand high school and middle school, build new elementary school at Whistler site

Option 4: Expand high school, build new elementary at Whistler site and reconfigure middle school to seventh and eighth grades, reconfigure Strawberry Park Elementary to fifth and sixth grades