Doug Tumminello: Support lent to 3A/3B
I’m writing in support of 3A and 3B. We moved to Steamboat in large part because of the community’s dedication to education, and the proposed plan is reflective of that dedication. Our children attend the high school and the North Routt charter school, so we are familiar with the issues.
The proposed plan is the result of a public process, with plenty of opportunity for input. The notion that it was rushed, or developed out of the public’s eye, is not true.
Likewise, any argument that the plan is being pushed by people with ulterior motives. It was developed by those who live in the community, studied the issue and used judgment to develop a long-term solution. We elected them to do just that.
While I respect that people have different opinions as to the “best” plan, the proposal addresses the issues that the district faces — crowded classrooms, aging buildings and inadequate facilities.
Some opponents argue that moving the high school to the west side of town would deprive the community of its downtown school. Yes, the high school would move, but three miles is hardly the extreme distance that some argue.
The current high school will be converted into the new middle school, which is currently overcrowded, and Yampa Valley High School — still the community’s school. Opponents also argue, without support, that moving the high school will cause extraordinary traffic problems. I think it more likely that any traffic impact will be minimal or nonexistent. Middle schoolers who now are driven or bused to school will presumably be able to walk.
Likewise, the majority of high school students are not currently walking to school, they are already driving, or being driven or bused. A move of the school won’t change that.
As for the argument that out-of-district kids are to blame for the crowding, that isn’t the case. Assuming that turning away those students doesn’t violate open enrollment laws, the need for classroom space would not be eliminated through that strategy. Those students are spread throughout the grades, so the same number of classrooms and teachers would still be required even without them.
However, the financial impact would be a loss of $900,000 per year in funding and the resulting elimination of at least a dozen local teaching jobs. The argument that in-district North Routt kids can’t be counted because they may attend the charter school is likewise faulty — those students graduate from the charter school after eighth grade and attend SSHS.
Also, the high school’s new location will give the opportunity to add needed athletic space and could serve as a platform for collaboration between the school district and the city on facilities that the public calls for but doesn’t want located in their particular back yards. Recent examples include baseball fields, a training wall for youth and high school lacrosse and soccer, perhaps even indoor turf/field house space.
One thing is clear — over time, construction costs will rise. Recent history shows that construction inflation is between 4 percent and 7 percent per year. Add to inflation the fact that interest rates, which are at historical lows, are going to start increasing. While it may be expensive to build a new high school and renovate existing facilities now, the price isn’t going to go down. What seems a heavy lift now will be even more so later.
Finally, I’d like to thank the board of education and the other volunteers who have spent so much of their free time on this complex issue — their dedication is commendable.
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