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School board seeking more updates from CC4E community group

Teresa Ristow
Community Committee for Education Chair Bette Vandahl, right, speaks during a committee meeting.
Teresa Ristow

— Members of the Steamboat Springs Board of Education expressed concern during two recent meetings about the progress of the Community Committee for Education, or CC4E.

Some board members said they expected the 18-member community group, formed in February in response to last fall’s failed bond issue, to be closer to making recommendations for the district’s future by this point.

“I would like more movement from within the committee,” said board member Sam Rush at an Aug. 15 meeting. “I want to see results.”

Board member Roger Good said during an Aug. 1 meeting that members of CC4E might have discovered that “it’s harder to create a plan than it is to criticize a plan.”

Many members of CC4E were in outspoken opposition to November’s $92 million bond proposal and related mill levy override.

CC4E Chair Bette Vandahl said late last week she thinks CC4E’s timeline is reasonable and that the rushed nature of the 2015 bond measure damaged the campaign.

“I think it’s important to be thorough rather than try to rush something,” said Vandahl. “We need to do our groundwork.”

The committee in March held a trio of public forums, gathering thousands of comments on the state of district schools. Committee members also held smaller meetings with groups such as the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors and school staff.

The organization of all the collected feedback has been time consuming, and CC4E meeting attendance has dropped off during the summer, but Vandahl said that sub-committees studying areas such as facilities and demographics have been hard at work.

Work by the demographics committee has led to the hiring of Denver Public Schools demographer Jim Looney, who will revisit enrollment predictions for the district.

“I think we’re doing our due diligence, and we’re being thorough. We took our time to gather input from the community,” Vandahl said.

Vandahl said educating the community on issues such as school finance will be an important part of CC4E’s work.

CC4E’s timeline shows the group is scheduled to make final recommendations — which could include a bond to pay for facilities upgrades — to the school board in March.

Board of Education President Margie Huron said Sunday the board plans to ask CC4E to give more regular updates on its work and is hopeful the board will have some idea of the committee’s recommendations by December.

“I think we’d like to hear a more definitive direction by December,” Huron said. “If we don’t have something in December, we’re going to have to do something about facilities.”

November’s bond included about $15 million in deferred maintenance upgrades for district facilities, including new roofs, door hardware and other items the district needs.

Huron said she is appreciative of the work CC4E is doing and understanding of the fact that getting full participation from the committee throughout the summer months was challenging.

“I think we’ll see some more movement,” Huron said. “I’m optimistic.”

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow


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