Soda Creek bond issue OK'd

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Election 2006

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Soda Creek Elementary School will be rebuilt, and Strawberry Park Elementary School will be renovated and expanded after Steamboat Springs School District voters passed Referendum 3D on Tuesday.

The $29.7 million bond issue received 60 percent of the vote. Only voters who live within the school district's boundaries could cast ballots on the issue.

"This is the time we have to push ahead and get our ducks in a row and give the community something it deserves," School Board President Denise Connelly said.

Proponents of the issue cited Soda Creek's age - 51 years - and Strawberry Park's inadequate size as two primary reasons to ask voters to fund construction costs.

The new Soda Creek will be rebuilt on its existing site at Laurel Street and Park Avenue in Old Town. Students will be displaced during Soda Creek's construction, but when and for how long remains unknown.

The Steamboat Springs School Board was awaiting passage of 3D before finalizing a construction timeline.

Discussion of the elementary school projects is on the agenda for the School Board's meeting Nov. 20.

"We are moving to the next phase to accomplish our goals," Superintendent Donna Howell said Tuesday.

Students at Strawberry Park won't be displaced during its renovation and expansion. Currently, one-quarter of Strawberry Park's student population is taught in modular classrooms outside the main school building.

Some critics of 3D argued that a new elementary school should be built west of town. Still others suggested that a new school be built off Whistler Road on the east end of town. The district owns land in both locations.

District officials selected Soda Creek's current site after polling Steamboat residents. A majority indicated they wanted an elementary school in the residential Old Town area.

The new Soda Creek tentatively will be two stories with 28 classrooms and six flexible learning areas. Total square footage will be 70,000 feet.

The renovated Strawberry Park will be 64,500 square feet with 10 additional classrooms.

The plans at both schools will address ventilation and safety concerns.

School property taxes will be $926 a year on a $450,000 home with the passage of 3D and Referendum 3C, a mill levy override to increase district staff pay and attract and retain quality staff for the future.

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

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