Schools willing to work with city

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— Steamboat Springs School Board members supported collaboration between the district and the city regarding after-school programs, but they said city officials need to decide what they want - and soon.

"We need to move," board member Jeff Troeger said. "We have major plans to make."

Construction drawings for Soda Creek Elementary and Strawberry Park Elementary schools need to be finalized in the immediate future, so any city-funded additions to those plans need to be decided.

City officials have expressed interest in paying to build after-school storage and office space in the rebuilt Soda Creek. During the city's budget hearings, $200,000 was set aside to help fund after-school programs.

City officials also have said they want to use the modular classrooms at Strawberry Park Elementary School, but Superintendent Donna Howell said Monday that she did not know whether that was possible.

"We have not decided what we are going to do with those," Howell said.

The elementary schools - and perhaps the middle school - were identified as ideal for the city's after-school programs because there would be no need to transport the children to an off-site location and because the district would like to offer children educational and recreational opportunities after school.

Tentatively, the city's after-school programs wouldn't move into the elementary schools until after construction is complete in several years.

"I don't see why we can't do something about after-school programs right now," board member John DeVincentis said. "I care about our kids having an after-school program."

Currently, there are no school-directed after-school programs.

"Right now, they are in a smelly, old hockey lockerroom," Troeger said, referring to the Igloo, which is the city's primary indoor site for after-school programs. "Offering a little bit is a vast improvement. If I could wave my wand, that is for Donna to talk to our staff and find out if there is something we can do in the meantime."

District facilities director Rick Denney addressed the board, saying he "strongly recommend you don't add any more capacity or more students to the school."

Denney added that the priority should be in housing the current students during the construction process and providing them with a quality education during school hours.

The board listened to Denney's comments, and ultimately decided the decision of whether the city wants to continue collaborating with the school district is up to city officials.

"We are willing to participate," board member Jerry Kozatch said. "Maybe we just need to remind them that we are receptive, and it's their turn now."

- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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