Pete Kenney: District has needs |

Pete Kenney: District has needs

I am worried that this bond issue is going to become so divisive that neighbors are going to be disgruntled for years to come. Let’s take a step back and be Steamboat civil. Both sides have valid points. We have to ask ourselves — are we trying to fix the problem of our school district for the next 10 years or 20 years or beyond?

Lets face it: Those of us who live in town are being selfish, because our kids can zip back and forth to the high school, and we have no driving to do. Is there room to add onto the existing footprint of the high school, or is that just “kicking the can down the road?”

From the four planning meetings I attended, I learned a new high school campus requires 50 to 55 acres. There are never going to be 50 acres in downtown Steamboat Springs, and someday, the existing campus will be outgrown. Purchasing the YVEA land is probably a very wise thing to do.

Yes, access to that site is less-than stellar. What should be done with the parcel out in Steamboat 2? It is too small (32 acres) for a high school campus. How did the purchase of Christian Heritage get dumped so fast as a solution to the elementary overcrowding issue? I also learned the current district office building is, per square foot, the most expensive building the school district has to operate by a factor of two or three — that’s just wasting scarce funds.

The middle school is a disaster and may need to be replaced with a two-story middle school on the footprint. One way or another, it needs to be expanded — where and how, I’m not sure.

Can the entire Strawberry Park campus handle the added traffic as it grows? It’s a fiasco today. The field house must be built. I also learned the required access from U.S. Highway 40 to the district’s Whistler site would require so much wetlands mitigation the cost could make access virtually impossible. If that is true, why hold onto it?

Strawberry Park Elementary and the middle and high schools all need new roofs — this is not negotiable. We need at least one additional turf field. The track at the high school must be replaced. The elementary school overcrowding must be solved and soon. The list goes on and on … but at what cost?

I’m concerned about the effect of the commercial mill levy and how it will impact businesses. Will small business be able to survive? Ninety two million is a very large number, and a mill levy override in the future to pay for this proposed plan worries me. Landlords are not going to absorb this increase; rents will increase, prices will increase and we will all share the burden … but at what price?

I have great appreciation for the time our school board puts in. Thank you for your commitment to our children. Our school board picked this option as the best route for the future. The teachers are behind 3A and 3B, and at the end of the day, it’s the teachers who know best what is needed for our children’s fantastic education.

So the ballot box will decide. Please, let’s tone down the rhetoric and respect both viewpoints. I just wish a compromised plan had been offered, as well, and we would be voting to move forward on something. If 3A/3B fails, lots of volunteer time and money was wasted, and we are back to square one. How did we let it get to this point?

Pete Kenney

Steamboat Springs

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