Our View: Keep an open mind | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Keep an open mind

The Steamboat Springs School District is poised to present voters with a bond issue to finance construction of a new school or schools in November to solve the district’s issues of current and projected overcapacity. An advisory committee, made up of community members and school personnel, has been meeting for more than a year exploring possible building sites and grade configurations, and the school board is giving itself until the end of the school year to make a final decision on what direction the district will take.

Based on a recent article in the Steamboat Pilot & Today, the committee has whittled down its list of possible locations for a new school to two: Whistler Park and Steamboat II, both properties the district owns.

At this juncture, we are not prepared to endorse one location over another, and we also believe there are other issues to be addressed beyond just where the future school is situated. Instead, we ask community members to seek the facts and keep an open mind about school locations until they have all the information they need to make an educated decision. And at the same time, we urge the district to make every effort to answer several fundamental questions before asking voters to support a multi-million-dollar bond issue.

At a glance

At issue: The Steamboat Springs school board is working toward placing a bond issue proposal on the November ballot by the end of the school year.

Our view: The community needs to keep an open mind, and the district must make every effort to answer fundamental questions about the proposed project before the issue lands on the ballot.

Editorial Board
Logan Molen, publisher
Lisa Schlichtman, editor
Robin Stone, community representative
Steve Hofman, community representative

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

We realize an advisory committee has been meeting for more than a year, and they’ve tackled a lot of the groundwork, but the district must understand the general public may not be up to speed on the preliminary work these volunteers have addressed. Unless the district wants a repeat of the November 2015 election, it is imperative that school leaders quickly craft a plan to educate the public about the district’s space needs, the reasons the board is seeking to construct a new school and why one location is the best of the current two options.

In particular, there are two key questions that need to be answered first, including the specific costs of building a new school and the demographics behind the district’s claims that all campuses are over capacity and that overcapacity is likely to grow. It is also important that district leaders find a way to better engage with the community as a whole.

After the 2015 bond issue failed, we know there were considerable efforts made to meet with community groups and individuals about the concerns that led to the issue’s defeat at the polls, and we think a similar effort needs to be made in advance of another ballot measure.

Most recently, a group of residents who live in the Whistler Park area have rallied to oppose the building of a school in their neighborhood. It appears some of that opposition was sparked by misinformation, including false rumors that the city was going to sell or swap the land where Whistler Park now sits to the school district, as well as legitimate concerns about traffic and environmental impact on a nearby wetlands area.

We’d also ask community members to do their part. Instead of signing a change.org petition, why not attend the next school board meeting on April 1 or the community meeting the district is planning to hold for the Whistler Park neighborhood April 17? Both of these meetings will provide opportunities for public input and a chance to learn more about the various building proposals.

As Superintendent Brad Meeks stated in his letter to the editor in today’s newspaper, it’s the children that unite us as a community. So ultimately we hope the public and the district will make every effort to engage in an open, fact-based dialogue with the result being a project that meets immediate and long-term community educational needs and that Steamboat voters feel is worthy of their support.

Get involved — upcoming community meetings:

Whistler neighbors meeting
6:30 p.m. April 17
Rex’s American Bar & Grill, 3190 S. Lincoln Ave.

Steamboat II neighbors meeting
6:30 p.m. May 2
Location TBD

Districtwide PIC meeting
11:30 a.m. May 2
Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.

Board of education community forum
6:30 p.m. April 29
Soda Creek Elementary School, 220 Park Ave.

Board of education community forum
8:30 a.m. May 6
Bud Werner Memorial Library, 1289 Lincoln Ave.

Board of education community forum
9 a.m. May 11
Soda Creek Elementary School, 220 Park Ave.


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