The Yes 2 Steamboat School Committee: Yes on Referendums 3A, 3B |

The Yes 2 Steamboat School Committee: Yes on Referendums 3A, 3B

Steamboat Springs is a great place to live, with schools that rank in the top 1 percent of Colorado. This has caused student enrollment to grow every year for over a decade, putting both elementary schools and the middle school overcapacity.

Although buildings have been expanded and modulars have been installed, important programming spaces are still being lost to classroom sprawl. This strategy can’t continue. There is no space remaining to convert; no rooms left to expand.

Even the high school has poorly configured and undersized spaces. The average classroom size is below state minimum guidelines, the library is too small, limited athletic spaces cause practices past 9 p.m. and the gym can’t even seat some graduation crowds. The high school is programmatically maxed out with classroom space soon to follow.

It’s plain to see — our students and educators need more space, and they need the kind of space that matches today’s programming.

To address these issues, the school district recently completed a facilities master plan. Over the course of a year, hundreds of people directly participated in more than 25 public meetings.

The teachers and educators we entrust with our children gave their professional opinions. Parents, community members and the board of education toured each program in every school to thoroughly understand the challenges. Hundreds more provided input via email and online surveys. It’s all captured in the comprehensive, 265-page master plan document.

The recommendation was clear: no more short-term, compromised and costly solutions. A strategic plan was created for intelligent, forward-thinking programs and capacity while maintaining fiscal responsibility. The board of education unanimously authorized that plan to go to the voters to:

■ Convert the existing middle school to a third elementary, alleviating significant overcrowding.

■ Incorporate preschool at each elementary campus, a benefit to children, parents and employers alike.

■ Incorporate the Boys & Girls Club into the Strawberry Park campus.

■ Provide the middle school with better access to science, technology, music, art, physical education, and athletic spaces by moving to the existing high school campus, alleviating overcrowding and providing flexible capacity for decades.

■ Expand and improve the Yampa Valley (alternative) High School.

■ Build a new high school with flexible capacity that will last for decades and improved programming spaces and facilities that benefit the entire community, including two baseball fields, a turf field, track, soccer field, gymnasiums and auditorium.

■ Reserve space at the new high school parcel for a fourth elementary.

■ Perform important capital renewal and long-term maintenance on our existing school buildings.

What will this cost? About 11 percent more on your total property taxes. That’s less than a dollar per day for the average homeowner, and school property taxes will remain among the lowest in all of Colorado (bottom 33 percent). That’s a great investment for maintaining top 1 percent performance.

We understand some have called for a “better plan.” But their objections were raised late in the process, are mostly centered around personal conveniences and ignore the input of hundreds of parents, educators, business owners and other community members who spent a considerable amount of time deliberating this past year to create the “best plan.”

Remember that a no vote this fall means no plan and no solution. For students, it means more elementary school in modulars, more windowless classrooms at the middle school and a high school with programmatic challenges and classrooms that will be completely full in 5 to 10 years.

For taxpayers, it means higher construction costs and rising interest rates. We all deserve better.

Vote yes on 3A and 3B to enact a long-term, comprehensive and affordable plan. The “best plan” for the taxpayers, educators and students.

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