Letter to the editor: Recommendations for future school site
As the last community meetings take place this week and before the Steamboat Springs School Board makes its decisions on May 20, we’d like to give our recommendations, which are based on research conducted by CC4E and community input.
The most immediate concern is the growing middle school and high school enrollment — according to the recent demographic report — and programming needs. We recommend:
• Steamboat Springs High School: 10,000-square-foot pod for science, CTE and art.
• Yampa Valley High School: Renovation and expansion
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• Steamboat Springs Middle School: Science classrooms, track and field.
• Strawberry Park Elementary School: Full-size gym
• North Routt Community Charter School: Multi-purpose room
• Pre-K: Move pre-kindergarten to new school. Cost of adding pre-K to Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools is too much at this time.
We endorse Option D: Convert Strawberry Park campus into a fifth- through eighth-grade middle school campus with a 5-6 and a 7-8 building. This option was popular during the CC4E process.
• Provides more space for middle school and reduces enrollment at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park replacement school by removing fifth grade
• Addresses traffic congestion at Strawberry Park campus
• Allows for more programming for middle-schoolers and gives fifth-graders more access to world languages, arts and sports
• Establishes a neighborhood elementary school
• Costs the least, which allows for more priority projects at the other schools
Studies show grade configuration has no significant impact on student achievement and the best predictor of student achievement is an excellent classroom teacher.
We endorse the Whistler site for the PK-4 replacement school. Eventually, schools will be needed at both ends of town.
The Whistler site:
• Has enough socioeconomically diverse students to fill a school now, and more development is underway
• Has water, sewer and a fire station
• Has infrastructure needs for roads (as does Steamboat II)
• Is suited to a neighborhood elementary school
• Would have a snow-melted playground, dedicated open space and fields for the school and community to use forever
We recommend saving the Steamboat II site for possible future development that needs more acreage.
There are some concerned about their views and an access road at Whistler, but a school is an asset that benefits the community and increases property values. If a school is not built, pressure will mount for the district to sell the property. If houses are built on the site, the fields and open space will be gone.
We appreciate the community process and recognize the board faces tough decisions. We hope they will consider our recommendations.
Chris Johnson and Robin Schepper
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