Our View: Move forward with consolidation study
March 23, 2011
Steamboat Springs — The mere suggestion of change can trigger an emotional response, and perhaps that's why we weren't surprised by the reaction of some South Routt school officials to talk of district consolidation last week. It's hard to blame School Board President Tim Corrigan and Superintendent Scott Mader for being protective of their schools, but their comments seem to overlook their responsibility to consider all possibilities with regards to how to best educate our county's youths.
To that end, we applaud the Education Fund Board for its willingness to discuss funding a consolidation study for Routt County's three public school districts. The Fund Board, whose members haven't officially discussed such a study, should not be deterred by the pessimism expressed in Oak Creek last week, but rather empowered by the possibility of helping a process that could eventually lead to a higher-quality, more efficient public education system for Routt County families.
In the end, consolidating Routt County's three districts into one may not make sense. But what if it does? What if consolidation saved taxpayer money while also expanding the educational and extracurricular opportunities for all county schoolchildren, regardless of their mailing address? What if it helped curb the seemingly annual budget cuts experienced in each of our districts? What if it helped boost student achievement?
We can't possibly know the answers to these questions until a thorough analysis has been conducted by an independent consultant. But we do know this: Consolidation is not synonymous with school closures, as Corrigan suggested last week. Community schools are not the same as community school districts. It is possible to have one without the other.
It's important that the consolidation discussion be entered into with mutual respect for each of the individual communities and an acknowledgment of our mutual dependence on one another. We don't want to see schools in Routt County close. We simply want to see a study that examines what might work.
We expect our kids to enter school with open minds for the things they'll learn each and every day. We expect the same open-mindedness from local school officials when it comes to exploring what's best for kids throughout Routt County.