Committee forms to promote Steamboat school ballot measures, including $79.5M bond ask
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A new “Yes to Education Steamboat” committee has formed to push for the passage of three Steamboat Springs School District ballot measures in November.
The group’s website first presents viewers with the headline: “High quality education in our community is at risk.” It continues, “overcrowding and insufficient compensation threaten the excellent education we currently enjoy.”
Ballot measure 4A asks voters to approve a 1.231-mill levy override to fund salary increases for teachers and other school staff.
Measure 4B proposes a 2.872-mill levy override to be used for operating and staffing costs at the planned new school, and 4C is a bond issue to fund construction of a new $52.5 million new pre-k-8 school in Steamboat as well as $27 million in upgrades at existing school facilities.
In 2015, voters rejected a $92 million school bond proposal by a wide margin — with 79% voting “no.” That bond was aimed primarily at building a new high school.
If all three ballot measures pass in November, the residential homeowner will pay $17.01 per month for every $500,000 of assessed value, and commercial property owners will pay $70.91 per month for every $500,000 of assessed value.
Geoff Petis, the Yes to Education Steamboat’s registered agent, said thus far, the committee has raised about $10,000. That has primarily come from small donations, he said. The 26-member group held a launch party Monday, which Petis said was well attended.
Geoff Petis, Realtor/attorney
Marcia Martin, retired
Steve Muntean, leadership consultant
Jay Fetcher, rancher
Michele Miller, educator
Wendy Hall, educator
Nicole DeCrette, educator
Jon Quinn, technology services
Jessica Reagon, educator
Ann Henderson, educator
Joe LaLiberte, educator
Anna White, educator
Heidi Chapman-Hoy, educator
Cam Boyd, Realtor
Cindy Gantick, retired
Jerry Buelter, retired
Pat Komor, attorney
Aurora Sidel, educator
Jane Toothaker, consultant
Kim Smith, consultant
Nathan Steele, political consultant
Katy Lee, board of education/energy services
Margie Huron, board of education/retired
River Lathers, CMC student
Two of the committee’s members are paid staff, including a political consultant and an intern.
This time around, Petis believes there has been more community involvement in the process that led up to board voting to place proposals on the ballot.
In 2015, Petis was newer to the community but felt “the district hadn’t really explained the plan and just said ‘trust us.’”
Most recently, Petis, a lawyer and real estate agent, spent more than a year working as one of 32 members of the Steamboat Springs School District Advisory Committee, which came up with 16 proposals aimed at addressing the school district’s issues of overcrowding.
They narrowed those 16 options down to four, from which the board then voted on one: to move forward on the pre-k-8 school in Steamboat II.
A number of community forums and neighborhood meetings were held, as well as surveys conducted, as part of the process. And after the advisory committee wrapped up its work, Petis said he realized, there was still work to be done.
“There needs to be a campaign effort,” Petis said.
Petis said all three measures go hand in hand. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Gallagher Amendment dictate that 4B and 4C must be separate, though Petis notes one can’t happen without the other.
As far as the salary increases go, Petis calls the relationship between pay and having adequate spaces in which to work as “holistic.”
Petis said the bond proposal is “fiscally responsible.” And, for those taxpayers without kids in school, strong schools equal strong communities, he said, referring to the committee’s tagline.
Concerns about the bond expressed at past meetings by community members include: an increase in taxes, especially for people who don’t have kids in school; the demographic reports and whether or not they truly show the need for a new school; the cost and impact of adding preschool to existing elementary schools; and reservations about the Steamboat II building site.
At this time, no official opposition committees have registered with the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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