Decision time |

Decision time

School Board to act on Soda Creek ballot issue

Soda Creek Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Kristi Spence sets up her classroom Sunday with help from her son Ethan, 3, six-year-old daughter Hanna, with her hand over her mouth, and six-year-old friend Este Wilkinson. In the background is Kristi Spence's husband, Jonathan Spence.
Mike Lawrence

On the agenda

7 p.m. Agenda review7:40 p.m. Principal and director reports8 p.m. Public comments8:20 p.m. Staff comments8:35 p.m. Resignations, employment, substitute teacher list8:50 p.m. SSEA litigation, bus purchase, facilities plan update, IGA, mill levyoverride & facilities bond issue, acceptance of resignation of School Board President Tom Miller-Freutel10:15 p.m. Adjournment

— The first day of school for Steamboat Springs’ students is the last day on the School Board for Tom Miller-Freutel.

Tonight, in his final meeting, Miller-Freutel likely has a whopper of a decision to preside over as board president.

The School Board is scheduled to discuss whether to place at least one issue on the Nov. 7 ballot, asking Steamboat voters to support either a nearly $30 million bond to rebuild Soda Creek Elementary School and expand Strawberry Park Elementary School, or a permanent property tax increase – known as a mill levy override – to support educational staff and programs, or both.

Sept. 8 is the deadline to submit finalized ballot language to city officials.

Tuesday is the deadline for the Routt County Board of Commissioners to sign an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, allowing the school district to participate in the Nov. 7 election, which the county coordinates with the city of Steamboat Springs.

Whether to sign the IGA is on tonight’s School Board agenda.

“We wouldn’t even be able to consider (a ballot issue) if we didn’t do that,” said Donna Howell, superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District. “The IGA allows us to place something on the ballot if we so choose – it doesn’t indicate we’re going to.”

Another duck the school district has in a row is possible language for a ballot issue.

Staff from Denver consulting firm RBC Dain Rauscher have prepared sample ballot language for School Board members, to give a tangible idea of what the ballot proposals could look like.

“They have all the options available to them,” Howell said of School Board members.

“They could choose to do the mill levy and say they need more time for the bond, they could choose to do both at the same time, they could do nothing.”

School Board action tonight would culminate months of research and planning including public forums, a community survey, needs assessments and financial studies.

Also on tonight’s agenda is the board’s acceptance of Miller-Freutel’s resignation, which he announced last month in order to devote more time to his growing telecommunications business.

Howell said it is completely appropriate that Miller-Freutel lead such a weighty discussion tonight, despite the fact that he is leaving the board.

“He’s been part of all of it, and he has all the background information,” Howell said of the ballot issue studies and preparation.

“He is in the best position to be part of the decision-making process.”

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