Soroco community speaks out against district consolidation |

Soroco community speaks out against district consolidation

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See the full text of the statement by the Board of Education during Monday's meeting here: https://www.scrib...

— South Routt Board of Education members fielded an hour and a half of public comment Monday from residents concerned about the possibility of the district consolidating with the Steamboat Springs School District.

“I would say the consensus was a concern that the board was endorsing the idea of consolidation with Steamboat,” said Jules Palyo, board president.

Palyo said a packed room of community members, many from multi-generational South Routt families, commented on their own experiences with the South Routt School District and shared what the district meant to them. Those that commented were not in favor of consolidation.

“That was pretty much the theme of the audience addressing the board,” Palyo said.

Palyo said the sudden discussion about possible consolidation was generated by a series of three articles in the Steamboat Today about the situation in South Routt, which has faced declining enrollment in recent years, with a drop of 40 students from fall 2014 to fall 2015. The final of the three articles explored the idea of consolidation with the Steamboat Springs School District, which some South Routt students already attend through open enrollment.

Palyo said the board prepared a statement to clear up any confusion about making a push for consolidation with Steamboat, which the board is not, to read prior to the public comment.

“The South Routt Board of Education and administration does not support consolidation,” the statement said. “At no time have we considered consolidation as a strategy for addressing any of the issues that challenge our district.”

Despite the statement, Palyo said the board still fielded concerns from community members who were upset that the idea of consolidation had surfaced.

New board member Sean Veilleux agreed that members of the audience who spoke were coming from a place of concern for the district and community.

“The united voice was proud, not arrogant nor defiant, but proud of who Soroco is,” Veilleux said. “Therefore, this voice was protective. I heard the collective voice say, ‘we don’t want to lose who we are.’ I heard that voice say, ‘we are willing to fight for it.’”

Palyo said that South Routt community member Bob Logan, longtime owner of Bob’s Conoco in Steamboat Springs, spoke out against the pitfalls of consolidation, citing research.

The roughly 90 minutes of public comment pushed regular board business further into the evening, with the meeting wrapping up at about 1 a.m., Palyo said.

The board tabled a planned discussion on a district marketing plan and has scheduled a special meeting to address the topic at 6 p.m. Jan. 11 in the district office boardroom.

The board’s next regular business meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 13.

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

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