Our view: Help school district find ‘common ground’ | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Help school district find ‘common ground’

The Steamboat Springs School District has been holding a series of "Common Ground" community forums to gather public input on building solutions to accommodate increasing enrollment and over-capacity schools, and the last one is scheduled for 9 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1 at Soda Creek Elementary School.

A 32-member community advisory committee has been meeting for the past 10 months to help identify the district's greatest needs and create several proposed scenarios that involve upgrades and modifications to existing campuses and construction of a new school. The options are varied but focus on the Strawberry Park campus where capacity needs appear to be the greatest.

Now that options have been narrowed from 16 to four by a committed few, it's time for district patrons to chime in and offer their input on the proposed plans.

At a glance

At issue: The Steamboat Springs School District is seeking public input on how best to solve the issue of over-capacity schools.

Our View: Community members need to engage now.

Editorial Board
• Logan Molen, publisher
• Lisa Schlichtman, editor
• Mike Burns, community representative
• Melissa Hampton, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.

In 2015, when voters overwhelmingly defeated the district's $92 million plan to build a new high school, informal polling of voters indicated that people believed they had not been involved enough in the planning process and they were unhappy with the district's choice to pursue construction of a high school.

The district listened to those dissenting voices and came back with a more conservative plan, which voters approved in 2017.

Now, looking ahead to a possible bond election in 2019, the district once again wants to hear from the community, and now is the time for school patrons to share their thoughts on how the district should handle overcrowding — specifically what grades should a new school serve, where should it be built and what modifications should be made to existing campuses.

We ask the community to get involved now. Don't wait until the school board votes to place an issue on the ballot next year to start picking apart the proposal and the process. By then, it will be too late. Instead, be proactive and offer your input before final decisions are made.

And once these initial forums are completed, we encourage the district to widen its outreach. The first three forums were held on school grounds, and early next year, we suggest district leaders go out into the community and engage with people where they work, live and play — look for opportunities to meet with groups and clubs and visit with local business owners. It will be worth the effort and a more likely path to success.

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