Steamboat district begins process to create boundaries for new school, provides COVID-19 update
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs School District has started the process of drawing boundaries for the new Sleeping Giant pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade school, according to Finance Director Mark Rydberg.
The tentative boundaries would include neighborhoods west of Elk River Road. The area east of Elk River Road to Third Street would be part of Soda Creek Elementary’s boundary, and the area to the south and east of Third Street to Elk River Road would be part of Strawberry Park Elementary School, Rydberg said at Monday’s school board meeting.
“There’s a strong possibility it won’t be as clear cut as what I just said,” he added. “We might have to carve out a couple of neighborhoods or areas to make the numbers work.”
That includes consideration of school capacity, as well as ensuring all schools have a socio-economic balance.
Rydberg said he hopes to develop a draft plan with the Boundary Planning Committee, which will be presented to the board in late October or early December. The plan would then be presented in public meetings to gather input, with a plan finalized by Dec. 14, at which time the board would vote.
Sleeping Giant will be open enrollment, Rydberg said, meaning anyone can apply with acceptance based on grade level capacity, like other schools in the district.
Discussions already underway include allowing fourth graders and seventh graders the option to finish next year at their current school and opening Sleeping Giant as a preK through eighth-grade school.
While there had been recommendations to start with preK through sixth grade and grow to include seventh and eighth grades, Rydberg said if COVID-19 restrictions are still in place, the district will want to use all available classrooms. In addition, the seventh-grade class right now is one of the bigger classes.
“If we don’t alleviate that, the eigth grade will have 30 or so kids in a class,” Rydberg said.
For elementary schools, the committee also discussed having three classrooms at each grade level at Soda Creek, three at Strawberry Park and two at Sleeping Giant.
New Sleeping Giant Principal Jennifer Malouff also provided a design update. She discussed furniture selection and putting together an art committee to come up with a vision for the artwork for the interior and exterior of the new school. Malouff mentioned working with the Tread of Pioneers Museum on a history wall and commissioning local artists.
A decision Malouff said she hopes for the community to make soon is on the school’s mascot and colors. A survey will go out to the Silver Spur, Steamboat II and Heritage Park neighborhoods, she said, to ensure those communities, which will in all likelihood be within the school’s boundaries, have a “platform and a voice.”
They will narrow down the top choices, Malouff said, and then have a community vote.
Superintendent Brad Meeks discussed the recent positive COVID-19 case at Steamboat Springs Middle School and said, while it was unfortunate, it was handled well by the staff in collaboration with public health officials.
“Hopefully, we will see the students and staff return later in the week,” he said.
About 45 students were quarantined, which includes the cohort, siblings, as well as kids who rode the bus with the positive case. Several staff members are also in quarantine.
“I’m quite proud of how it was handled,” Meeks said.
The transition to remote learning is going well for the quarantined students, said Director of Teaching and Learning Jay Hamric.
“Everyone is pitching in and doing amazing work,” Hamric said.
Board member Lara Craig asked about testing of the quarantined students. Meeks said that would be up to the families, and a negative test wouldn’t shorten their quarantine time.
Board member Chresta Brinkman commended the family with the positive case for acting quickly and being transparent.
The board agreed to consider if they could open some schools to all students five days a week when and if Routt County moves into the Protect Your Neighbor phase. This discussion would happen at the school board’s next meeting.
As of Monday night, there were 158 positive COVID-19 cases listed in Routt County, according to the state.
Hamric alerted the board to a shortage of substitute teachers. It’s been a growing concern, he said, exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It’s a very limited pool,” which is especially problematic when teachers are quarantined, he said.
A substitute only needs to have a high school degree, Hamric noted, as well as go through a background check and an application process.
“We’d be very appreciative if anyone who is interested contact us,” he said.
Board member Kim Brack suggested reaching out to college students who are learning online from home and looking for work. Board President Kelly Latterman said she’d like to explore the possibility of permitting board members to volunteer to substitute teach.
Anyone interested in finding out more about substitute teaching can email Deb Ginesta at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 970-871-3193.
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