Groups begin to design new school, upgrade projects | SteamboatToday.com

Groups begin to design new school, upgrade projects

A preliminary design for the new pre-k through eighth-grade school on the Steamboat Springs School District land in Steamboat II. No final decisions have been made.
Courtesy graphic

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The design process is well underway for the new pre-K through eighth-grade school on the Steamboat Springs School District’s 70-acre property in Steamboat II.

With a goal of breaking ground in the spring and opening the new school in the fall of 2021, “we wanted to hit the ground running,” said Superintendent Brad Meeks. “People are going to see things happening in the spring.”

The Design Advisory Group — sometimes referred to as DAG — for the new school was formed prior to the Nov. 5 election, when voters narrowly passed the referendums granting a $79.5 million bond for the construction of the new school, as well as a bond providing $2.8 million annually for operating costs. The operational bond will not be certified until it is needed.

The new school advisory group has already met three times and consists of 22 members, including parents, school staff, district administrators and community members.

A notice was posted on the district’s website and Facebook page in October to solicit applications for the group, according to Meeks.

“The PK-8 DAG application had an overwhelming response from volunteers generously willing to be part of the process,” Owners Representative Colleen Kaneda, of Dynamic Program Management, wrote in an emailed response to a question about how the group was formed. “Unfortunately, we were unable to accommodate all applicants. We selected a diverse group of members who are representative of the larger community. These members have agreed to serve as ambassadors for those they represent (neighbors, parents, staff members, etc.) and will be talking with their peers about the status of the design and bringing the feedback they hear to the DAG meetings.”  

At the Board of Education’s Dec. 9 meeting, Robin Schepper urged more community engagement and transparency by the district on the design process. Schepper is a parent, chair of the high school’s parent information committee — or PIC — and worked as part of the Community Committe for Eduction — also known as CC4E — advisory committee. She also served on the executive committee for the 2017 bond package.

Schepper requested the names of the group members be posted online, along with a mechanism for the district to receive comments and feedback from the public.

In the days following that meeting, information was added to the district’s website, including a list of design advisory members. Presentations from each of the meetings are also available online.

Meeks later said he would consider adding a comment mechanism that would be open to everyone.

At the Dec. 9 meeting, Kaneda presented a “Decision making” flow chart, with “SSSD Community” in the largest box at the very top.

However after the meeting, Schepper expressed concern about the district’s community engagement piece being effective and genuine.

“I am happy that the community has funded education,” Schepper said, of the Nov. 5 victory. “But now is the time for the details and for the district to keep the community informed on how decisions are made and how money is being spent.”

The district has scheduled the first round of public meetings, but Schepper said there needs to be additional channels to receive input, “so our taxpayer dollars are reflected in what the district builds.”

She advocated for channels that are not just “passive,” like website posting, but more active, like mailings to the entire community or a way to submit comments online.

With the $79.5 million bond passing by just 69 votes, it is especially important, Schepper noted, because in no way was the election a “mandate” from voters on the spending package. “It’s up to the district and the board to make sure taxpayers feel the money is being appropriately spent,” she said.

The $79.5 million bond also includes about $27 million designated for upgrades at existing school district campuses.

Timeline

New pre-k through eighth-grade School

  • Design: November 2019 – Summer 2020
  • Construction: Summer 2020 – Fall/Winter 2021

Strawberry Park Elementary School

  • Design: November 2019 – Spring 2020
  • Construction: Summer 2020 – Fall 2020

Soda Creek Elementary School

  • Design: November 2019 – Spring 2020
  • Construction: Summer 2020 – Early 2021

Steamboat Springs Middle School

  • Design: November 2019 – Spring 2020
  • Construction: Summer 2020 – Late 2020

Steamboat Springs High School

  • Design: December 2019 – Fall 2020
  • Construction: Spring 2021 – Summer 2022

North Routt Community Charter School

  • Design: Spring 2020 – Fall 2020
  • Construction: Spring 2021 – Fall 2021

Yampa Valley High School/Boys & Girls Club

  • Design: Spring 2020 – Fall 2020
  • Abatement: Summer/Fall 2020
  • Construction: Fall 2020-Spring 2021

Seventh Street Restroom Improvements

  • Design: December 2019 – Spring 2020
  • Construction: Summer 2020

Design Advisory groups have already begun meeting for the projects at Steamboat Springs Middle School, Soda Creek Elementary School and Strawberry Park Elementary School.

The members of those groups were chosen by the building principals, according to Kaneda.

Other top concerns from Schepper were the timeline for the high school and the need to ensure that private preschool providers, who are able to offer year-round care, are not negatively impacted.

Planned upgrades at the high school are described as a 9,000-square-foot addition with six new classrooms and a focus on adding Career and Technical Education space. Schepper said she had concerns that it isn’t happening sooner and that $6 million isn’t enough to ensure the high school can meet the district’s needs for 15 or 20 years into the future. 

The role of the design advisory groups, explained Meeks, is to provide design guidance from the “30,000-foot” level for the new school and priority projects. When the planning process gets down to the details — such as how each room will be furnished — the people who will actually be using those rooms will be brought into the process, Meeks said.

Thus far, Meeks said there have been “no big surprises,” related to the Steamboat II construction site. They have been working with the city and Metro Water District on water and sewer agreements, and Meeks said the annexation uncertainty doesn’t have any impact on the new school.

“It’s going to be transformational,” Meeks said of the new school. “It is a real positive plus for the whole community and across the whole district.”

For the pre-K through eighth-grade school, HCM was hired as the design team and FCI Constructors as the construction contractors. For the priority projects, TAB Associates was hired as the design team and Haselden Construction as the contractors.

Community meetings with updates on the new school are scheduled for March 5 and May 7. Times and locations have not yet been announced.

For more information on the design advisory group meetings and other updates, visit https://buildingforthefuture.ssk12.org/home.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.


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