Scott Bideau: Schools need help
October 14, 2015
I had an unpleasant surprise the first time I toured our schools and saw them all bursting at the seams — more than any demographic report can possibly describe.
Small group learning and special education pushed into the elementary hallway. Converted middle school classrooms without windows and chemistry labs with no sinks. Even the high school has programs stepping on each other, such as science class conducted in the band room.
I assumed the middle and high school could simply be expanded. But my tour guides showed how that strategy hasn't worked well in the past, from confusing layouts to overly stressed common spaces. Building a new elementary seemed obvious until uncovering the infrastructure and access challenges.
I attended nearly all of the 30 facilities meetings during the past year in search of a better plan. Hundreds of people in our community came together to create exactly that, an amazing re-alignment of each school to its optimal purpose for decades to come, including the following:
■ Converting the middle school to a third elementary while re-introducing dedicated programming spaces and incorporating preschool at each campus.
■ Moving the middle school to the existing high school for the type of programming spaces and capacity they desperately need and deserve.
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■ Providing the alternative high school room to expand, potentially to also include middle school.
■ Constructing a new high school with the educational programming, capacity, athletic space and other common facilities needed by both our students and entire community — all without any classroom construction disruption while keeping individual school property taxes below what you paid after the Soda Creek and high school remodel bond (inflation adjusted).
It doesn't get any better than this.
So I joined my fellow board of education members in unanimously submitting this plan for voter approval. I then volunteered to co-chair the Yes 2 Steamboat Schools committee and have documented everything on yes2steamboatschools.com, including answers to FAQs, tax impacts and the entire 265-page master plan document.
I encourage each voter to invest adequate time researching the actual facts rather than listening to concerning inaccuracies or claiming you don't have enough information when it's all a mouse click away.
I also ask you to consider whether this plan best serves the needs of our entire district — from special needs to special talents, from early childhood through high school graduation, from the mountain to downtown to outside city limits, for the taxpayers and the teachers, for next year and the next 20. That is the job I was elected to do for you, and I think this is the best plan for all students.
Join me in voting "yes" to 3A and 3B.