The Steamboat Springs School Board is scheduled to take action Thursday night on a proposed $1.2 million addition to Steamboat Springs Middle School.
Plans for the addition, which were developed by district facilities director Rick Denney, include nearly 4,000 square feet of office space that would open several classrooms for use. The plans also include a heated walkway, renovated entrance and improved drainage in front of the school. Money for the project would come from the Education Fund Board, which on March 1 approved a $950,000 gift to the School Board to fund construction.
Whether to accept the gift has been a topic of debate among School Board members this month. Board members John DeVincentis and Jeff Troeger, along with board President Tom Miller-Freutel, questioned whether the middle school was the best location for such a large sum of money, especially considering the lack of a long-term plan for the improvement of other school district facilities such as Soda Creek Elementary School. Board members Pat Gleason and Denise Connelly are members of the Education Fund Board and were part of the approval process for the gift.
Miller-Freutel said that after visiting the site with Denney 10 days ago, he supports accepting the Fund Board's gift and building the addition.
"I wanted to make sure we had an opportunity to get a full understanding of the complexity of the project," Miller-Freutel said Sunday of his earlier questions about the addition. "(The site visit) was very appropriate to get a good grasp on what they're dealing with in terms of space constraints at the middle school, and Rick spent a great deal of time with us going over the exterior difficulties.
"What grabbed my attention during the site visit was the fact that they're not just moving the (administrative) offices forward, they're also increasing some much-needed classroom space," Miller-Freutel continued. "We have had a significant increase in English Language Learners in the district, and we don't have the space to deal with it -- this (addition) would help alleviate that."
Miller-Freutel also praised the Fund Board gift for providing money in the bank.
"Taxpayers have already been kind enough to pay for it, in essence, through the half-cent sales tax," he said about the citywide tax that provides the Fund Board revenue. "I think the addition is an appropriate use of the money."
Although "Soda Creek is probably at the forefront of everybody's mind," Miller-Freutel said, the middle school addition would -- pending approval Thursday and construction during the summer -- fix numerous problems that Denney has said need to be addressed.
"This is an item we can check off the list," Miller-Freutel said.
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