Katy Lee: 4B, 4C relieve facility issues, provide opportunities for learning
The Steamboat Springs School District has been working with community members and an architect/construction team over the past two years to renew our master plan. We often hear this phrase when talking about public planning, but let’s take a minute to discuss what it actually means for our school district.
First, it’s a plan to maintain the assets we currently own. The district’s inventory includes six buildings and their associated land, as well as two additional sites at Whistler and Steamboat II. North Routt Community Charter School is also included as part of our charter agreement. The master plan process allows us to proactively anticipate maintenance costs at each facility and strategically plan for replacement when a facility reaches the end of its useful life.
The second part of the master plan involves facility upgrades and new additions. There are typically two reasons that a school district might consider significant facility additions: the first is educational programming, and the second is student population growth.
Flexible spaces are critical today as our staff adapt instruction to individual students’ needs and employ innovative teaching methods. Our vision for education in Steamboat requires spaces for small-group learning and collaboration as well as private counseling areas to address the upsurge in mental health issues.
Facility upgrades are also required for subjects like science and engineering that can be better taught with hands-on activities. Additionally, recent increases in enrollment in the visual and performing arts classes — shown to improve student outcomes — require expanded amenities.
The second reason to consider facility additions is student population growth. Spaces like cafeterias, gyms, performance venues, kitchens and even transportation facilities have a maximum capacity.
Expanding our existing buildings may be an option if the site allows. However, we also need to consider the overall number of students each campus accommodates as credible research has found that limiting school size improves student success. A master plan should address overcrowding before it stresses students and staff to the point of affecting teaching outcomes and mental well-being.
Thirty-two of your fellow community members in addition to district staff, school board and our consultants have worked since January 2018 to complete the master plan. A draft of the document is available at http://www.steamboatschools.net/bond-2017-1efeeb98.
We are all excited with the result and the possibility of relieving our current facility issues and providing new opportunities for our students. Please vote “yes” on 4B and 4C.
Steamboat Springs board of education member
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