Steamboat School District moves forward with proposed $79.5M bond
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Emphasizing there is still much more work to be done, the Steamboat Springs Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday to move forward with a $79.5 million bond proposal that includes upgrades to existing facilities and the $52.5 million construction of a new pre-K through eighth-grade school.
At a June 5 special meeting, the board requested that Superintendent Brad Meeks and NV5, the district’s building consultant, put together a proposal under $80 million.
“We are working to try to develop a plan based on feedback public has given us the past four years,” Meeks said. “What we are presenting is what we consistently heard from the public on what they want to see in the plan.”
The district gathered that information through forums, board meetings, surveys and extensive hours spent by community groups and advisory committees.
And, they worked hard to trim, Meeks said, especially given “double-digit inflation” for construction costs.
The initial package included a new school plus a list of priority projects at existing schools estimated to cost between $150 million and $250 million.
“We have decreased initial scope to what is absolutely necessary,” noted school board member Kelly Latterman.
Despite a lot of emotion surrounding the issues involved in a new bond and the failure of the $92 million bond in 2015, Meeks said it is exciting to move closer to a community-driven plan to build the future of the school district.
The intent, based on community feedback, is to build capacity for at least the next 10 to 15 years, Meeks said.
The next step for the bond, Meeks said, is to let Routt County know they plan to participate in the November election and then refine the numbers and ballot language for final board approval in late July.
Voters may see two or three questions, Finance Director Mark Rydberg said at the June 17 school board meeting.
One involves the bond, and the second the mill levy override, which provides the operation costs to open the new building — estimated at $2.8 million. The third ballot question relates to pay raises requested by the Steamboat Springs Education Association. At this time, the bond for staff pay increases is estimated at $1.2 million, which would result in a starting teacher annual salary of $40,741 — approximately a 6% increase.
Soda Creek Elementary: $5.3 million
Classroom addition to remove modulars, add preschool
Strawberry Park Elementary: $4.3 million
Separate cafeteria from gym, add preschool
North Routt Community Charter: $4.1 million
Add multi-purpose space and restrooms
Steamboat Springs Middle: $5.8 million
Add cafeteria, kitchen space, renovate science labs, track and field, fire loop around building (4,000-square-foot addition)
Steamboat Springs High: $6 million
Add space for STEM, science, arts, CTE programming (9,000-square-foot addition)
Yampa Valley High School, Boys & Girls Club: $1.5 million
Add security vestibule, common space and restroom renovation
While there was minimal public comment and no dissenting voices at Monday’s meeting, skepticism with the district’s plan have been expressed in recent months.
Those concerns have included whether demographics indeed show a need for a new school, the location of a new school and whether a pre-K through eighth-grade school is the best configuration to address capacity issues. The primary concern has been cost and the willingness of voters and property owners, the vast majority of whom do not have kids in public schools, to increase their taxes.
Bond ($79.5 million) and mill levy override ($2.8 million), per $500,000 in assessed value:
Total estimate with staff salary increase ($1.2 million):
Rydberg noted that taxes otherwise will be going down, due to the decertification of the 0.537 mill kindergarten tax as a result of new state funding, and the bond fund going down, among other factors.
“There is a lot more work ahead,” said Board President Joey Andrew. “It’s going to be a busy summer.”
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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In a survey earlier this month, 90% of teachers at Steamboat Springs High School that responded said they don’t have faith in the leadership of Principal Rick Elertson, according to the Steamboat Springs Education Association.