Steamboat school bond campaigns heat up
Steamboat Springs — Tensions are rising between groups on either side of the Steamboat Springs School District’s $92 million bond question, which voters will be asked to decide on in the coming weeks.
Both the pro-bond Yes 2 Steamboat Schools and the anti-bond Citizens for a Better Plan have mobilized with websites, Facebook pages, newspaper ads, yard signs and meetings with community groups.
A Google consumer survey conducted on the Steamboat Today website last week gathered more than 500 responses from readers who were asked how they planned to vote on the Nov. 3 bond issue, which, if approved, would pay for a new high school on the western edge of Steamboat city limits as well as targeted upgrades and maintenance at the rest of the district’s schools to alleviate overcrowding.
The survey was determined “too close to call” but tended toward a “no” vote, with 37.9 percent of respondents voting “no,” 24.6 percent voting “yes” and 37.5 percent marking “undecided.”
Respondents were first asked whether they were registered to vote in the Steamboat Springs School District, and then those who indicated “yes” were able to view the bond question.
Steamboat Today plans to run another survey after ballots go out the week of Oct. 12.
Yes 2 Steamboat Schools co-chair Paula Stephenson said she’s concerned that if the bond doesn’t pass, it could be years before another community group is formed, information is analyzed about the district, a new plan is created and a bond measure is passed.
“We’re going to be in the same spot we are now, probably with the same plan, but it’s going to cost twice as much,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson said the pro-bond campaign committee is continuing with its efforts to educate the public and to support the plan, including through the use of yard signs.
Both Stephenson and Citizens for a Better Plan committee member Mary Darcy said some of their groups’ yard signs had been stolen over the last several days.
Stephenson said a large six-foot tall sign had been stolen from one neighborhood Thursday night while a smaller sign disappeared from her neighborhood.
“It’s disappointing that people would do that,” she said. “I understand people have different ideas about what should and shouldn’t be done, but I would think our community is professional enough not to do things like that.”
Darcy said the stealing of signs was “surprising and unfortunate for both sides.”
She said the same group of 20 core parent volunteers is leading the Citizens for a Better Plan campaign, but she feels the movement is gaining traction because of an increase in supportive messages and emails.
“The biggest concerns I hear from people are that this is a huge step to take without careful analysis,” Darcy said. “We’re also hearing from people who weren’t even aware of what was going on until this issue was already slated to be put on the ballot.”
Citizens for a Better Plan members oppose the bond in part because it moves the high school population to a new campus outside of downtown.
Under the plan, the current high school would become a middle school and the current middle school would become an elementary campus.
Stephenson said she feels it’s important to remember that no schools are being demolished as part of the plan, but that the existing high school will be repurposed and used to its maximum potential, along with the rest of the district’s buildings.
Stephenson said she felt the district has done a good job reaching out, analyzing the options and deciding on a plan.
“And no plan means no solution,” she said.
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