Jon Quinn: A parent’s perspective on school overcrowding
Every parent, student and educator in Steamboat Springs has felt the impacts of our overcrowded schools, and we all know that the raw numbers only tell part of the story. The overcrowding has an impact that cannot be overstated, but it’s not just about the statistics — it is about the ridiculous challenges of operating a school district at 100% capacity every single day.
We’ve all got our own stories, but here are just some of the challenges I’ve seen.
Our elementary school kids being taught in trailers. This is not just an imperfect situation. It is unfair to the kids and unsafe in an era of enhanced school safety requirements. The “modular” classrooms at Soda Creek have been in service for over five years now, and there is no demographic forecast that indicates that enrollments will ever drop to the point they are no longer needed.
Our middle school kids now outnumber the lockers available to them. It’s hard to ask a middle schooler to cart around all their winter clothes, books and sports gear all day in a backpack, but middle school parents were notified this year that their child might not have a locker available to them due to overcrowding. If you have ever had a kid in middle school, you know how important the lockers are to those kids.
Our teachers are forced to have offices in closets, under stairwells, in atriums and other spaces that were never intended to be offices. I imagine this scenario is not great for teacher morale or the ability to recruit and retain the best and brightest. Wherever you look, it’s clear we don’t have room for all the kids or all the teachers either.
It’s also easy to see we’ve created transportation challenges. If you’re on the roads for the morning and afternoon commute, you already feel the strain of our overcrowded schools. All of our schools are smack-dab in the center of our traffic crunch.
This bond initiative won’t fix everything, but it’s clear that we need to begin to build schools in the neighborhoods where growth is happening and where families live, not just in downtown Steamboat. Just making our existing facilities bigger only exasperates the downtown traffic crunch.
If you’ve been in our schools, you already know that they are stretched to capacity. Our community is growing, and it is time that we invest in our future.
I hope that you will join me in supporting 4A, 4B and 4C.
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