Letter: Addressing concerns about new school construction
If you have driven down U.S. Highway 40 between Milner and Steamboat Springs or by Soda Creek Elementary or Strawberry Park recently, you may have noticed that the school district has begun the school construction projects approved by voters last year. I would like to address a few concerns the school board has been hearing.
Why now? First, the school district is obligated by law to complete the construction in the approved ballot measure by a prescribed timeline. Once we sold the bonds in January, that timeline was set. These tax dollars must be spent on the capital projects described in the ballot, so the funds can’t cover budget cuts by paying things like teacher salaries.
Second, the need to address our overcrowding issues at the elementary and middle schools has become even more paramount as we deal with the repercussions of the pandemic. I feel many families will agree that our recent isolation has proven physical presence in a school setting is essential to our social and emotional wellbeing long term. The additional space from the renovations scheduled to be complete in the late fall/early winter will be even more critical under the anticipated social distancing requirements.
Last, construction has been deemed essential to the economy by the state of Colorado during the outbreak. We are hopeful that the new dollars being spent locally now will help our community recover.
Of course, our top priority during construction is minimizing the risk of contributing to the spread of the virus. We have implemented effective precautions including PPE requirements, social distancing and health monitoring at each construction site. Our construction contractors have committed to us that they will not tolerate any COVID-19-related protocol violations — anyone not following the guidelines will be sent home for the day.
Thankfully, much of the work in these early months is outdoors, and the majority of the contractors live in the county. Travel from outside of Routt County is being minimized. The Routt County Building Department has reviewed our plans, and we will continue to adjust as required.
Please know that the district does not take lightly our responsibility to execute our voter-approved projects while doing our part to maintain the health of our community. If you have any further concerns, please email email@example.com. I am thankful to be a part of the Steamboat Springs School District.
Steamboat Springs School Board member
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