Donna Howell: Issues 3C and 3D will improve area education |

Donna Howell: Issues 3C and 3D will improve area education

On Nov. 7, voters will have the opportunity to vote on Steamboat Springs School District issues 3C and 3D. I would like to take the opportunity to explain how the passage of 3C and 3D will address our needs for now and the future. A successful vote will enhance education for our children and benefit our community, at a cost increase of $8 a month for the owner of a $450,000 home.

We need to maintain quality education in Steamboat.

The passage of 3C and 3D will provide our students, teachers and staff with the instructional and learning environment that will prepare our students for middle school and high school.

Ballot 3C will allow us to continue attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff, our No. 1 priority. As teacher shortages continue, it is even more important for the school district to be competitive. Also, as everyone knows, the cost of living continues to rise, and Steamboat schools need to keep up. We can attract and retain quality staff by maintaining a salary structure competitive with other resort communities.

Ballot issue 3D will allow us to replace the 50-year-old Soda Creek Elementary School at its current location, and renovate the 24-year-old Strawberry Park Elementary School. Replacing Soda Creek Elementary School will increase the number of classrooms to 28, and allow the district to build a facility that better supports the educational needs of our students. The addition at Strawberry Park will increase the number of classrooms to 31 and replace aging modular classrooms, a majority without bathroom facilities. Together, the two schools will have 59 permanent classrooms (up from the current 45), 33 percent additional square feet, to provide for all of the K-5 educational needs and future growth.

The cost to provide this quality education is nominal.

The net impact of issue 3C and 3D is a tax increase of $8 a month for a $450,000 home. These two projects are the last pieces to our educational puzzle. With the replacement and renovation of these facilities, all of the district’s facilities will require no major renovations that require additional property tax increases in the foreseeable future.

The passage of ballot issue 3C will have no tax impact, as the additional tax rate will be offset by a reduction in the bond fund tax rate no longer needed to pay for bonds issued in 1989. It will ask for additional operating funds in 2007 of $600,000, increasing each year by $25,000 until 2015, when it caps at $800,000 per year. By increasing the amount received incrementally each year, we can continue attracting and maintaining qualified teachers and staff.

The passage of ballot issue 3D will amount to a tax increase of $8 a month for a $450,000 home. It will ask for $29.685 million to replace the 50-year-old Soda Creek Elementary School at its current location ($20.875 million), and renovate the 24-year-old Strawberry Park Elementary School ($8.81 million).

The comprehensive plan was based upon extensive input.

The school district gathered input from its board of education, architects, staff, and the community. From the input, we developed a comprehensive plan that will allow Steamboat Springs to move forward as a school district and as a community. We gathered the input through community forums, staff meetings and public surveys.

For ballot issue 3D, we considered three sites for the location of the new Soda Creek Elementary School. All three locations had comparable costs, but the community told us that it wanted to rebuild the school on the current site.

Our students’ future is in your hands.

On Nov. 7, please take into consideration the above information when deciding how you will vote on ballot issues 3C and 3D. Your vote will have a lasting impact on the quality of education and the quality of life that Steamboat residents have come to expect and value.

Dr. Donna K. Howell is superintendent of schools for the Steamboat Springs School District.

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