Sleeping Giant School has most of educational staff hired as the August opening date grows nearer
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Earlier this month, a group of about 20 parents gathered in a driveway in the Silver Spur neighborhood. It wasn’t a garage sale or a graduation party but instead a pandemic-style meeting.
It featured parents who live in the neighborhood and Steamboat Springs School District officials. They shared more information about the new Sleeping Giant School nearby.
“Lots of families have questions about, ’Will middle school have sports and after school activities, what will the schedule look like, what specials classes will the kids have access to, will it be equitable,” said Jennifer Malouff, principal at the new school.
They created a rather long presentation hoping to address many of the most pressing questions parents had posed to Malouff. Two more similar meetings were held as well, one in-person and one virtually. One of the most popular questions was whether the new school will have an industrial arts program, and Malouff said that it would not.
“The building was not designed to have a shop class,” Malouff said. “That was a really big thing that parents were bringing up because they knew right off the bat that we wouldn’t have something like that, so then their curiosity was ‘What else is going to be different?’”
Some of these programs may look a little different at Sleeping Giant because they have a smaller scale, but students at the new school will still have access to almost all of the programs that are available at Steamboat Springs Middle School.
There were lots of questions around providing opportunities for students who are more advanced in certain subjects, particularly math. Malouff said they will have a teacher to help guide these students through these programs, and many other teachers in the school will teach multiple grade levels in some subjects.
“We need to make sure that there is alignment regardless if the students are going to Sleeping Giant or to Steamboat Springs Middle School,” Malouff said. “Kids are going to have access to everything they have access to now, with the exception of that industrial arts piece.”
Another popular question was who will be teaching at the school. Malouff said they have already hired about 75% to 80% of the staff that will be at the new school. Hiring support and custodial staff will come in the next few months, but Malouff said she is hoping to have the core education team in place within the next 10 days.
Malouff is working to create a newsletter for the school and will also use the school’s newly launched website to communicate with parents and students in the months ahead of the school’s August opening.
“We are hoping that we are hitting multiple avenues for families,” Malouff said, adding that she also reaches out directly to parent groups living on the west side of the district. “There is lots of word of mouth.”
The most recent numbers put about 300 students at the new school, but the district is still filtering through waivers from families seeking to have their student go to a school other than the one assigned based on where they live.
Mark Rydberg, finance director for the district, said they have just started to sift through the waivers they received and hope to communicate decisions with families in the middle of May.
“Our goal is to balance out the schools and maintain class size, and if we can accommodate some people’s transfer, we will, but it is not our number one priority,” Rydberg said.
The district has hired some additional teachers to accommodate the requests of fourth and seventh graders, who were guaranteed to stay at their current school if they wanted. To deal with this, one fifth-grade section at Soda Creek Elementary and two sections of eighth grade at the middle school are being added for this year.
Conversations about when teachers can start moving into the new building are underway, and Malouff said they will need a lot of support from parents to help set up everything in the school. One particularly heavy lift is unpacking, labeling and shelving the 6,000 new books for the new library in the school.
“We’re looking for ways to get the parents involved in the school as soon as possible to start making that connection and building that culture,” District Superintendent Brad Meeks said.
Meeks said they are working to figure out what a dedication event for the school will eventually look like, whether that is before school starts or after students have already moved in. As the new school year nears, Meeks said they would be able to make firmer plans and communicate those with parents.
Furniture is slated to arrive around July 19 and should take about two weeks. After that is completed in early August, Malouff said she hopes teachers will be able to start moving in.
“If we can have Sleeping Giant teachers all in their classrooms and ready to go by either the 12th or the 13th (of August), then they are going to be ready to hit the ground running,” Malouff said.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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