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Committee reveals five options for future of Steamboat Springs schools

Teresa Ristow
Students leave Steamboat Springs Middle School after the first day of class in 2013.
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— Community Committee for Education members Tuesday got a first look at five new options for updating Steamboat Springs School District facilities.

The committee’s facilities task force has met for months to study the district’s existing facilities and work on making recommendations for whether to build new schools or how to update or reconfigure existing schools.

Facilities task force leader and CC4E member Kevin Sankey said task force members aren’t picking a favorite option, and they are eager to hear what the community thinks of the new options.

The options aim for larger school capacities and are long-term solutions that would provide space in the coming years based on 1.7 percent annual student growth — the average rate of growth of the past 16 years in the district.

Option 1: Purchase the Heritage Christian School building and use it to accommodate 240 to 360 elementary students. Expand Steamboat Springs Middle School on site by potential building over the school’s field space. Expand Steamboat Springs High School on site. This solution would last 13 years before a new elementary school would be needed.

Option 2: Reconfigure Steamboat Springs Middle School into a seventh- and eighth-grade campus, and Strawberry Park Elementary into a fifth- and sixth-grade school. Build a new elementary school on the district’s existing Whistler Park site. Scatter plots show the district currently has a lot of students living on the mountain side of Steamboat Springs or south of town who would benefit from a new elementary school at Whistler. Also, buy the Heritage Christian School building for additional elementary space. Expand Steamboat Springs High school on site. This could be a 19-year solution.

Option 3: Reconfigure Steamboat Springs Middle School and Strawberry Park Elementary School grade configurations and build a new elementary school on the Whistler site — both as described in Option 2. Then, build a new elementary school somewhere on the west side or west of Steamboat Springs. This could be a 19-year solution.

Option 4: Tear down some or all of Steamboat Springs Middle School, which is in need of deferred maintenance, and use the space for athletic facilities or fields. Build a new elementary school and a new middle school at the Overlook site. Expand Steamboat Springs High School on site. This could be a 20-year solution.

Option 5: Reconfigure Strawberry Park Elementary into a preschool through second-grade campus. Make Steamboat Springs Middle School a third- through fifth-grade campus. Turn Steamboat Springs High School into a middle school campus. Build a new high school at the Overlook site. This could be a 20-year solution, and it is associated with the 2015 failed bond measure.

After reviewing the options, which don’t yet have any costs associated with them, CC4E member Clark Davidson questioned whether there were any more conservative options to offer the public.

“I like to do things a little more slowly, and I think there’s lots of people like that,” Davidson said.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Sankey said task force members are interested in gauging how the public feels about the options and would scrap them all if the community rejected them.

In December, the group will present the options to the school board before holding public forums and meetings, which could begin in January.

Editor’s note: The period of time used to determine the 1.7 percent growth rate has been corrected in this version of the story.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow


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