Carol Kemp: Consider the facts and future needs of our students
The Steamboat Springs Board of Education listened to the community and added Option D back into the discussions for the November bond issue. Option D might make sense as it allows the middle school students to retain their sense of community, separates the very impressionable elementary students from middle schoolers and would help with optimizing staffing.
Now is the time for the board of education to also listen to the community and build any new facilities at their Steamboat II site.
A fact that cannot be denied is the Whistler site is simply too small. Even if the board of education is able to purchase additional land from Mount Werner Water, this site is not big enough to build a pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade elementary school the size of Strawberry Park Elementary School. It is not big enough to expand for the future.
Soda Creek Elementary School was built on a site that was too small. In 2003, the school board announced its intentions to acquire Bill Padgett’s home constructed for his parents in the 1940s. His property was taken through eminent domain. We should not repeat this mistake by intentionally selecting a site that is too small to build a school and meet the future needs of our students.
In the March 4 school board meeting, Luke DeWolfe, Steamboat Springs High School assistant principal and activities director, mentioned the need for a field house and described having to shorten practices, rent a facility for baseball, displace community and youth groups. A March 13 Steamboat Pilot & Today article mentioned high school girls have had to resort to practicing golf in the boys locker room.
A total of 240 more students currently live closer to the Steamboat II site than the Whistler site based on the 2018-19 demographic enrollment numbers. This is the trend as more developments are built on the west side of town. There are no access issues at the Steamboat II site, but the access issues are huge at the Whistler site.
Only the Steamboat II site is large enough to build a school, an athletic field house and expand in the future. The cost of utilities is included in the budget for the Steamboat II site, and it still costs less than building at the Whistler site. It would be irresponsible to build a school at the Whistler site.
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