Citizens for a Better Plan Committee: No on 3A, 3B |

Citizens for a Better Plan Committee: No on 3A, 3B

As election day approaches, we hope everyone will take the time to look carefully at both sides of the school bond issue. Although we are passionate supporters of Steamboat’s schools, we cannot support this bond proposal.

Why is it smarter to build a high school when what you need is an elementary or K-8?  We say it’s not.

The numbers show we need an elementary, not a high school, the most expensive school to build. As of last week, the elementary schools were 155 over capacity and the high school (including YVHS) was 171 under capacity.

No matter how you look at the numbers, the high school is very unlikely to approach capacity for 10 years, and when it does, plans for expansion already exist. Build what is needed, and then see where we are in five to 10 years. We have a responsibility to use tax dollars wisely.

A bond as big as $92 million is not something that can happen very often — maybe every 15 to 20 years. We can’t be coming back to taxpayers anytime soon for more money, so we better get it right.

This process was too rushed, and the plan shows it. The more we dig into the specifics and the more we look at the demographic numbers, the more problems we find.

The main “summary sheet” of the plan that was handed out for weeks and is central to the bond campaign’s website makes no sense. It says that, from 2014 to 2019, elementary enrollment will grow at an annual average of 5.8 percent (from 1,079 to 1,393). The actual growth of Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools over the past five years has averaged 1.6 percent, and the growth over the past year was less than 1 percent, almost zero without out-of-district students.

If we really were to grow as fast as their chart says, we’d need a second elementary school by 2020. Using such a nonsensical “summary sheet” is one example of how this plan was put together without enough thoughtful consideration. Another is the insufficient study of the costs and impacts to traffic and road intersections.

It’s foolish to throw away our current high school location, which is the beating heart at the center of our community. As a recent visitor said, “The recommendation to move the high school out is the kind of thing one might have expected to see in the dark ages of urban planning of the ’60s or ’70s. It is very surprising to see today, when the overwhelming importance and benefits for towns of having walkable centers that include important assets like the high school are much better understood and appreciated.”

Twenty years ago, this community came together to defeat a $41.8 million bond proposal by a 2-1 vote and demanded that our high school remain central in our town.  After significant community involvement and planning, a $24.75 million bond was subsequently passed with an overwhelming 69 percent voter approval for the “better” plan.”  The end result was an award-winning school that has yet to reach its full potential or capacity.

We’ve attended meetings, studied the plans, pored over demographic reports and talked to current and former teachers, school board members, builders, planners and so many local parents and business people. We think it would be a big mistake to rush ahead with this plan.

This community can come together after the election and create a better plan for all our schools. We want to be a part of that. Join us in voting no on 3A and 3B.

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