Stephanie Smith: Bigger isn’t better |

Stephanie Smith: Bigger isn’t better

Though my family and I have lived in this town for 12 years, we still consider ourselves new to the area. We’ve always appreciated how incredibly friendly the people are and how well-designed the town is as a whole — carefully and thoughtfully planned and developed.

Our two girls have gone to Strawberry Park Elementary, the middle school and now one is in the high school. I have worked and/or volunteered in each of these with the addition of Soda Creek.

We are still learning of the amazing attributes of our district and the dedicated staff within. We are invested in our schools and want to see the best decisions made.

Therefore, I have spent many hours, days and weeks learning about this bond issue. I have attended meetings and presentations, completed surveys, spoken with board members, administrators, principals, the lead consultant, daycare providers, builders, excavators, City Planning and CDOT and have come to the conclusion — this is an extremely expensive, convoluted proposal, which, upon close review, is very vague regarding implementation, contains many unknowns and undetermined costs.

The initial proposal began with a $22.4 million elementary school on district-owned property.

It rapidly grew with what seemed to be an unlimited budget, without responsible fiscal focus. High-dollar high school items were added, such as a

$2 million Maker Space lab, a $2.1 million PE/art/science addition and a $8.5 million gym.

Other plans came and went, culminating in the current bond proposal. It involves purchasing a new property, building a new high school, along with multiple athletic amenities, moving schools, people and programs to different buildings, taking on daycare — the list is endless, as is the budget.

This is what led to the

$92 million bond and an almost $2 million mill levy override to support it. Yet, with all the unknown related expenses, we are not sure this will be enough. Remember, at this time, everything is just an estimate — even the enrollment projections — just an estimate.

Are we being fiscally responsible by taking on a plan that has not yet been proven to be fully needed? The majority of the $2 million mill levy override is being dedicated to maintenance and operations, yet very little to teachers.

There are 10 maintenance related staff vs. five district teaching staff. Of that five, it’s not clear how many are dedicated to the proposed daycare classrooms. Hundreds of thousands in operations and only $24,000 for teacher materials.

And what about the enhancement of other programs? Where is there any mention of language arts, social studies, reading programs, GT or others?

Who is at the forefront of this project? Are they not in touch with the integrity of this community, that bigger isn’t always better — just more expensive?

Yes, our elementary schools are over capacity, and per the demographic report, that is what is needed — not a high school. Supporters state we need a new high school because it does not fit the community needs nor the entire school body in the gym all at once. Ludicrous.

Technology needs have been addressed, and either evaluating class scheduling or an addition can solve the need for more science labs.

School budgets are getting smaller, and state cuts are on the horizon. With a more detailed planning process, we can address elementary capacity and school needs without moving our amazing downtown high school and without spending $92 million. Join me in voting no on 3A/3B. Let’s be responsible with our budgets, put more toward our teachers and education and build what is truly needed.

Stephanie Smith

Steamboat Springs

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