It seems everywhere I look, I see a sign to "vote for our children." I am in support of our children, and I will vote yes on 3C to raise our teachers' salaries. However, the plan for the new school to be built at Soda Creek Elementary is inadequate for the future needs of the region.
The growth in our county is occurring in other areas outside of the city limits, and the city of Steamboat Springs has identified the west of town as the new growth area. Between Steamboat II, Heritage Park, West End Village and Silverview Estates, there are 500 homesites. The School Board said there were not enough children in this area to support a new school, but I disagree with that conclusion. I believe this merits a better study, given that the majority of these homes have been added over the past six years. Instead of building a new school at Soda Creek Elementary, the School Board should be building one on district land west of town to accommodate this growth.
The location and size of the site for Soda Creek Elementary School seems insufficient for the number of students that are planned for the new school. As our population increases and more students are added, the traffic congestion will likely worsen.
The reason Soda Creek Elementary and Strawberry Park Elementary schools do not work is that there are too many children in these schools. Soda Creek Elementary is only 50 years old, and there are some updates that should be made. We don't need these schools to work for 400 to 500 children. The schools could be remodeled at a much lower cost to accommodate fewer students. If we go back to the number of students that the schools were designed for, we won't have the parking and congestion problems and we will have more classroom space.
Let's then take the money that we are saving and build a new, small school west of town where the growth is occurring. Include all the children that live west of town that need to be driven or ride a bus and build the school for that number and build it so it can be expanded in the future, if needed. Schools give a sense of community, and the families living west of town deserve an elementary school where children can walk or ride their bikes to school.
Build a new, smaller school where the growth is. But keep Soda Creek Elementary and Strawberry Park Elementary in town with a few physical changes to make them more functional as smaller schools. Our children will learn more, and the taxpayers will get more for their money.