Parent pleads for play space |

Parent pleads for play space

Fund Board requests begin annual process for school gifts

Mike McCollum

Strawberry Park first-grader Riley Smith eats her lunch in the elementary school's multi-use gym. When it isn't being used for physical education, the area is transformed into the school's lunchroom. A few parents have proposed a field house that would give the growing kids more room dedicated to physical activity.

— The gymnasium at Strawberry Park Elementary School serves as an assembly hall, recreation center and cafeteria, but Steamboat Springs parent Bette Van Dahl believes the multi-purpose facility doesn’t serve any of those functions well.

“Basically for 12 years I have picked up, dropped off and sat and waited at three (Steamboat Springs) schools,” Van Dahl said. “I did a lot of thinking and looked around. The elementary gymnasium-cafeteria-auditorium is less and less functional. Lunch takes up more time and there is less time for P.E.”

Van Dahl petitioned the Steamboat Springs Capital Commission on Wednesday for a new stand-alone, multi-purpose field house on the Strawberry Park campus to give elementary students more physical education space and to give students at all district schools an indoor facility during the long winter months.

The Capital Commission is one of three groups that provide funding recommendations to the Education Fund Board, which administers the city’s half-cent sales tax for education and allocated $3.3 million last year.

Van Dahl lobbied for expanded facilities at Strawberry Park during public meetings about a possible new recreation center in Steamboat Springs. With that $34 million facility proposed for Ski Town Fields and on this year’s ballot for Steamboat voters, Van Dahl has set her sights on the Fund Board.

The Capital Commission recommends funding for capital projects, which would include expanded recreation facilities at Strawberry Park.

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Van Dahl received a preliminary cost estimate from Todd Ficken, project manager for construction projects at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools.

“He said it could be done for about $1.5 million,” she said. “That would be for a simple 10,000-square-foot building with two basketball courts, a brick façade and bathrooms.”

Van Dahl was limited to a five-minute presentation Wednesday. But at a Capital Commission meeting Nov. 14, she plans to use 30 minutes to make a more in-depth proposal.

Fund Board President Robin Crossan said such presentations and comments allow members of the public to have input in the annual Fund Board allocation process.

“This is a way for them to give us a heads up and bounce ideas off of us,” Crossan said. “What they need to do next is work with the principals at the schools, then the principals take ideas to the leadership committee, which includes the superintendent.”

Crossan said the leadership committee updates commissions in December on prioritized funding requests. Commissions then update the Fund Board in January on funding proposals before the board awards funds in March.

“We look at the Capital Commission, the Education Excellence Commission and the Technology Commission and see how we can make giving out funds equitable,” Crossan said.

– To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

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