I think I'm pretty well-informed and aware of what's going on in my city, having been here 35 years. But I hope it's not too late to rethink something that has a lot of us local parents scratching our heads.
Is this Soda Creek Elementary School rebuilding the best idea? A lot of us voted to bond the project (most agreed we need to grow and give our kids good schools), but did our city do a real thorough study as to where to put a new school? I heard only 300 locals were surveyed as to location. Is that a good representative of our populace? I know families who live downtown think it's a good idea to rebuild that school - but is that best for all and planning for the future? It's very crowded and tight at the Soda Creek location already. Traffic is crazy twice a day and how many kids actually walk to that school?
Here's an idea that seems to meet a lot of our goals, save money, plan for the future, and not put any kids in temporary buildings for several years at a cost of $8 million:
1. Make the two Strawberry Park schools both elementary schools (K-5 or more)
2. Make the high school the middle school.
3 Start building a new high school as soon as possible on the 35 acres west of town on the property the district already owns.
4. Make Soda Creek Elementary School a park or sell it to help pay for the new high school.
Parts of this plan were looked at a few years ago before the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan was adopted and most of the acreage went under contract to developers who are planning large-scale West Steamboat growth.
Here's what that would accomplish:
1. No students moved to temporary schools (saving $8 million).
2. It gets the current Strawberry Park Elementary School another gym, cafeteria, assembly facility and added classrooms, possibly eliminating the need for a remodel.
3. It keeps the bulk of kids riding buses in town. Many high school kids have cars. It may also eliminate problems that have arisen lately with older and younger kids on the same buses.
4. The 35 acres west of town would allow plenty of room for a new high school, sports complex and parking. And because Steamboat's major growth will go that way, all the kids currently in elementary school will need a bigger high school sooner or later.
5. With prices of homes getting out of control in downtown, and with West Steamboat promising "affordable housing" (whatever that means), maybe there won't be many young families who could afford to buy in downtown in the future - hence no kids walking to that school anyway.
I know I should have written this letter a long time ago, and maybe it's too late to stop the rebuilding, but maybe we had better relook at some of our decisions and get smart for the future. We fought for the courthouse location - now maybe it's time to rethink this decision also.