Our view: Get involved, get informed
The Community Committee for Education is hosting a series of public forums this week aimed at gathering community input on how to provide the best education for Steamboat Springs students.
The time to get involved is now, and we encourage community members to attend one of the three forums this week.
Steamboat Springs School District voters soundly defeated a $92 million bond issue to build a new high school last fall, and many of those who voted against the measure said their “no” votes stemmed, in part, from the fact that they were left with too many unanswered questions about the district’s building plan.
After the vote, district leaders learned from their predecessors and the success of the 10-Plus-2 initiative, which resulted in passage of a bond issue to build a new high school in November 1997, by appointing a citizens committee — the Community Committee for Education, or CC4E — to guide planning for the next bond issue.
The 18 members of the committee represent a wide cross section of the community and bring together people who were on both sides of the failed bond issue. The committee includes parents, business owners, a retiree, a teacher, a student, a principal, the superintendent and representatives from the city, county and chamber.
This week, the committee’s work begins in earnest as it hosts three forums aimed at sparking a community dialogue on how to provide the best education for Steamboat Springs students.
These forums are the first step in the information-gathering process, and committee members have expressed their desire to listen as members of the community share their ideas about education and how they think the district can overcome challenges, including capacity issues, with the best interests of students in mind.
Forum participants will interact in a roundtable setting with one community member at each table tasked with facilitating the discussion. A member of the CC4E committee will be assigned to each table as an observer and note-taker. Community members will also have the opportunity to write down their feedback on notecards if they don’t care to speak.
This approach, in our opinion, should produce sincere and valuable discussion among forum participants. There will be no overriding agenda to guide the discussion, and everyone will have the opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns openly in a small-group setting.
We hope the end result of these forums is unfiltered feedback that the committee can assess and use as it moves forward with new solutions for the issues facing the district when it comes to capacity and creating optimal learning environments for our students.
The committee has wisely selected an off-district site, the Steamboat Grand, as the venue for these community meetings, and times for the meetings were purposefully varied to encourage wider participation by accommodating different work schedules. Childcare will also be provided.
The first forum is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, and the second and third forums will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday.
Twenty years ago, the 10-Plus-2 committee hosted a similar series of public forums to discuss school district needs and hundreds turned out to participate. We hope to see an even better turnout this time around, and we strongly encourage community members to attend one of the three community meetings.
As we editorialized last November, Steamboat voters have a history of voting “yes” on ballot measures if their questions are answered and if they were involved in the planning process from the beginning.
These public forums mark the start of the community education process, and we remind our readers that becoming an informed citizen is not a passive process. Anyone interested or concerned about the future of education in Steamboat Springs should get involved now and let their voices be heard at one of this week’s forums.
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