Scott Wedel: Facts dispute need for new school
We are heading to the May 20 meeting without the school district presenting many relevant facts.
Fact is that kindergarten-fifth grade enrollment peaked in 2015.
Fact is the past seven years have had 14% fewer births to parents living within the Steamboat Springs School District than the previous seven years. These baby bust students have only reached kindergarten and first grades.
Fact is the past 18 months have had the fewest births to parents living within the district since any 18-month period since 1998-99.
Fact is that people moving here — net influx —has been a strong trend since 2001. Location-neutral workers and businesses moving here is an established trend, not something new.
Fact is that classrooms were built to handle 30-plus students. That we are not overcapacity in terms of space. As a community, we set a target of 20 students per K-5 classroom. We currently have an average of 21.4 students per K-5 classroom, which is a little over “target” but well under “capacity.”
Fact is that fall 2018 kindergarten enrollment was so weak the district accepted out-of-district students into schools they now claim are overcrowded.
Fact is that nonresident students are a major factor in our schools being over target. State law on nonresident students is that they are admitted just for one school year. For instance, Cherry Creek School District states in capitalized bold wording on their nonresident student applications that nonresidents students are accepted for just one school year. Steamboat could decide to eliminate nonresident students in fall 2019 to largely solve being over target.
Fact is that Steamboat’s 2019 budget projections expect a K-5 enrollment decline of 40 students. Same demographic reasons would lead to expecting a similar decline in fall 2020.
Fact is that with projected enrollment decline that in fall 2019 Steamboat could stop using the modular classroom at Soda Creek Elementary and return other classrooms to original purposes and have a 21.2 average class size.
Fact is that Steamboat Middle School will have peak enrollment of about 700 students until 2023 when the smaller classes reach sixth grade. Then comes at least nine years of reduced enrollment due to the known smaller group. Thus, adding several science classrooms would be a 10-plus year solution.
Fact is the original CC4E committee recommended a 10,000-square-foot science pod at the high school and fixing the cafeteria/gym dual-use problem at Strawberry Park Elementary. The need for those projects remain.
Would be a shame if the district’s insistence upon proposing what isn’t needed prevents us from giving our students the facilities they do need.
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