Emily Barnhart: Desire, expect best results | SteamboatToday.com

Emily Barnhart: Desire, expect best results

Parents, teachers, coaches, advocates and countless others contribute to creating and encouraging the growth of students within our community. However, often, it is within the walls of schools that much of this growth takes place.

For as long as I can remember, this community has been relentless about the quality of education its children receive. It is in large part what led my family and countless others to return to the valley to raise our own children.

Having grown up downtown, been a student at all the existing schools and having a subsequent career in education, I know the benefits are not in the geographic location of the school, but in what occurs within its walls. The walls of the current schools are starting to close in on the opportunities for all of the children in this town to experience rigorous and progressive educational opportunities.

It should be undisputed that our elementary schools are overcrowded and beyond capacity, leaving the need for a new elementary. However, the middle school and high school are struggling with space as well.

While capacity numbers create a certain picture, they are only that, numbers. Have you experienced a bus at max capacity? Is it the one you choose to ride again?

Each of the upper level schools face a lack of space in which to conduct the very best instruction. The middle school, already above its designed capacity, has windowless classrooms, modulars and a combined cafe-gym-auditorium.

High school classrooms are below state minimums, science is taught in the band room, and the gym can’t fit the entire student body. While the staff has facilitated learning within the current buildings, it begs to be considered — how much better will instruction be when conditions are ideal? Retrofits, additions and remodels will not suffice and solve the big picture problems with lasting results, but a new high school will.

It is time to stop complaining or speculating about how the current plan could be different, cheaper, modified, etc. and time to get behind our students to encourage their success. Not tomorrow, not next election, not when more people choose to attend meetings, not when your child enters the system, not when interest rates and building cost increase, but now.

The voracious appetite for educational and athletic excellence is experienced in countless ways throughout Steamboat. Families hit the highways and drive to every corner of the state providing athletic opportunities for children. Let us not be afraid to travel an additional 3.4 miles due to notions of tradition or central location.

Let us be as unceasing in our desire for academic opportunities as we are for those that are athletic. Building a new high school creates spaces that will support educational excellence at all levels now. It opens the door to a new elementary school, leads our middle school students into a building that will provide numerous opportunities not presently offered them and reaches to provide our high school students a building that will lead them into the future.

This plan invites community members to utilize the spaces offered and encourages partnerships. Let us be relentless about continuing a legacy of educational success. Let us care first about what goes on within the walls of the classroom and give our teachers and students the very best structures for enhanced academic outcomes.

Let us desire and expect the best by supporting this bond and mill levy. Vote “yes” on 3A and 3B.

Emily Barnhart

Steamboat Springs

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