Thursday, February 1, 2001
Hayden Four school districts are interested in finding out if a vocational and alternative education center is a viable option for this part of Northwest Colorado.
On Monday, school officials from Hayden, Moffat County, Steamboat Springs and Soroco met to discuss what the four districts could do to develop a vocational and alternative school.
During a two-hour video conference between school officials in Hayden and Steamboat Springs, many of the educators said they are in favor of examining the issue but are worried about funding.
"The biggest issue is money," said Archie Neil, who is the director of special education and student services for Moffat County. "We have a difficult road ahead of us, but I'm all for the program."
The school officials decided the best way to examine this proposal is to thoroughly investigate three issues.
At the end of the meeting, the school officials formed three subcommittees.
One subcommittee will be responsible to look into funding, another group will look at site options and a third will develop a uniformed survey to assess the needs of each school district.
During the meeting, how a vocational and alternative school could be funded received most of the attention by the educators.
All of the school officials who attended the meeting wondered how the four schools could afford to start this school when their budgets are already tight.
"Finances are a concern for all of this," said Rich Coleman, principal of Soroco High School. "We need to find out what we can afford. The reality is school budgets are school budgets."
Hayden High School Principal Nick Schafer, who organized the meeting and is proposing the idea, believes it is possible companies and corporations in the valley could be a source to start the school.
"We can go to Ski corp., the mines and power plants to see if they would be willing to get involved in this project," Schafer said. "I don't know if they could help us start it, but I think they would support it once it was established. Start-up money is the biggest concern I have."
Schafer proposed the idea because he believes a vocational school and alternative education for drop-outs needs to be developed in this part of the state.
Schafer proposed Monday he would like for the four school districts to join together and try to establish a school in Hayden.
Schafer believes Hayden would be the logical location for the school because the town is situated between Craig and Steamboat Springs.
The subcommittee examining site options will look at finding existing property with buildings that are available in the valley and also property available where a building could be built.
The subcommittee focusing on assessment will be compiling a survey for all the districts to give to their students.
The survey will try to give the school officials a better understanding if the students would be interested in vocational opportunities and alternative education.
Acting as a coordinator for the four districts is Jane Toothaker, the executive director of the Board of Cooperative Educational Services.
Toothaker is optimistic of the project.
"This is a great thing," Toothaker said. "We all have dwindling resources. Anytime we can cooperate and try to combine resources it's a good thing.
"Money is the main issue for all of us."
The school officials from the four districts will meet again at 1 p.m. March 6 at Hayden High School, 495 Jefferson Ave.
At that meeting, the subcommittees will give a report of their work.