School Board has big to-do list

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Four-year terms may not be long enough for members of the Steamboat Springs School Board.

During a retreat Friday afternoon, board members created a list of about 30 issues to discuss at future board meetings. The issues encompass virtually all aspects of running a school district, such as facility use, attracting and retaining quality staff, safety and disaster planning, food services, new funding mechanisms, technology development and community involvement.

What: Meeting of the Steamboat Springs School Board

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School, in the commons area, 45 E. Maple St.

Why: The special location was chosen to accommodate an expected large public turnout. The board is scheduled to take action Monday night on issues including the high school's Senior Odyssey program and a proposed high school elective class that would teach the Bible as a historical and cultural document.

"It's quite a list," said Tom Miller-Freutel, board president. "That could certainly occupy my next four years."

The board asked district administrators, including school principals, to provide input at the retreat, held in the conference room at the First National Bank. The gathering of about 20 people turned into an open discussion about the district's focus, communication, meeting structure and staff concerns. Miller-Freutel asked administrators to add items to the list of issues and voice concerns about their schools.

Most of the concerns were about the size of the list itself, and how to prioritize it.

"What is our real capacity to change things, and to finish things that we start?" asked Mark MacHale, principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School. "We can list a million things, but what can we really accomplish, and what do we really need to accomplish?"

The board will seek input from district administrators about prioritizing the list items, a task that could present some tough choices. One of the board's two meetings each month is a "study session," during which they focus on a particular topic. January's topic, for example, involves district finances.

With about 30 items on the list, the board will not have a shortage of topics in coming months.

"What is the timeline for discussing all of this?" asked Ann Sims, director of curriculum and instruction for the district. "These (issues) are all pretty timely."

MacHale said it is important to remember that Steamboat schools are already in good shape.

"It's not like we're a broken district and have to fix all of these things," he said. "Most of these are things we're trying to improve."

The School Board will meet Monday evening at Steamboat Springs High School, when it is scheduled to take action on several curriculum items including the high school's Senior Odyssey program and a proposed high school elective class that would teach the Bible as a historical and cultural document.

-- To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4203 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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