Playground may get $250,000

Fund Board votes to gift sum to Strawberry Park project

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— The Education Fund Board voted, 7-4, to gift up to $250,000 to replace an aging wooden playground at Strawberry Park Elementary School with one that will be accessible to all children, including those with disabilities. The funds also will be used to build a playground at the new Soda Creek Elementary School.

Julie Taulman and Shelly St. Pierre, parents of Strawberry Park students, have spearheaded the effort to build the "universal playgrounds" that are designed to accommodate children with mental and physical disabilities as well as able-bodied children.

Soft rubber padding would replace wood chips as a playing surface, allowing wheelchairs and walkers access to the area. Taulman said the increased accessibility comes with a price, but she hopes a three-pronged fundraising approach will raise as much as $800,000.

The Fund Board's $250,000 takes care of one of the three prongs, and the group hopes to raise an equal amount from grants and the community.

Fund Board member and School Board President Robin Crossan voted against gifting money toward the playground project because there is no assurance the community will match the Fund Board's $250,000.

"The only reason I will vote against this is because I want the community to bring $250,000 toward it," she said. "If the community believes in it, then there is a way to raise the money."

A community fundraising arm has raised $33,000 from the Parent Information Committees at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park, but Crossan argued that the PIC money is grant money, not community funds.

Fund Board member Jim Kurowski said he would not vote for the gift because the money draws from the Fund Board's reserves.

"I guess what I was taught when I came on this board (is) we don't do this, we don't go outside of our budget," he said.

Fund Board members Mark Andersen and Denise Connelly also voted against the gift toward the playground project.

Michael Loomis, Kristi Brown, Ann Barbier, Carolyn Peters, Tom Ptach, Harry Lambart and Sue MacCarthy voted for the gift.

"I've always felt that if a project comes forward that is really compelling and it doesn't fit into the time restraint of the budget process, we shouldn't exclude that just because that's what we've done before," Loomis said. "The timing is right to do it now, we are in this construction process with Soda Creek and it doesn't make sense to delay it just because it doesn't fit into our timeline."

The School Board must accept gifts from the Fund Board before the money can be spent. Crossan and Connelly are School Board members, and their 'no' votes indicate that even Fund Board approval for the playground money might not guarantee the district accepts it.

- To reach Mike McCollum, call 871-4208

or e-mail mmccollum@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

ColoradoNative 6 years, 10 months ago

Well wait a second. It was just recently that kids were being asked to clean the schools because we didn't have enough janitors. Now we have an extra 250k on playground equipment.

All I'm saying is "First things first". Did they find a way to pay the janitors that were having a hard time paying for gas to get to work?

Besides 250k on playground equipment? I must be out of touch with the costs these days.

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dogdog 6 years, 10 months ago

They are lacking custodians because no will take the job, not lack of funding. If they increase the pay scale for custodians to make it more lucrative, then ALL pays scales would need adjustment.

Which is really what they should do. This district has over $10million in reserves. They won't spend the money on staff or students though.

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letomayo 6 years, 10 months ago

If Howeel would give back some of the money she swindelled out of the district we would have the money. Where are the folks who donated money for the football field and why don't they help little kids? Howeel give back some money please.

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fish 6 years, 10 months ago

Well I guess that I am slow because I seem to be missing your point for this last post. Isn't that the job of an elected official. I guess that you would rather that every decision would be put to a vote by the general public.

Wow we think that the government works slowly now!

If you don't like their value judgements, run for their office. If you are really fed up try a recall.

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addlip2U 6 years, 10 months ago

"This district has over $10million in reserves. They won't spend the money on staff or students though."

If the above is correct, why not have the Fund Board spend their money on the playground AND the supposedly so badly needed indoor swimming pool at the High School?
What is the point having the resources and not put them to a good use? Spend it wisely and on the children and quality staff!

On another note: Is it a conflict of interest for D. Connelly and R. Crossan to serve on Fund AND School Board? Perhaps they should excuse themselves from one.

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fishy 6 years, 10 months ago

B4 i.e. principally sent - what can i say? you're back to show everyone what a problem you have. is it safe with you in town? thank you thank you old board for taking the heat for your feat.
(sorry fish, didn't know there was a fish out there)

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D_Icer 6 years, 10 months ago

Lets just double the budget and help some well deserving kids out. Steamboat needs more activities for the youngsters and plus it will help keep them out of trouble

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stompk 6 years, 10 months ago

Has this project been announced in the paper for public bid?

Isn't that how it's supposed to be done?

Put out there your ideas, and let companies come to you, so you can see what it's going to cost?.

Why is the estimate so high?

I was on the crew of the original playground, which was built by an all volunteer task force.

Could we not do the same again? Plenty of capable people in town, who would probably love to help out, myself being one of them.

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fmrstudentlxa 6 years, 10 months ago

We are talking 2 playgrounds not just one and I have seen several injuries occur at the SPE playground. The school had to even close off a section because of the danger that it presented. Also I think Taulman is right. While accessibility comes with a price as our community grows and brings children with various needs we need to support those needs. This is about children it shouldn't be about personal agendas. Every child in Steamboat should have access to enjoy the playgrounds.

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oldskoolstmbt 6 years, 10 months ago

10 million in reserves?..how about floating some of that to steamboat's red headed step child (south routt school dist.) and replace our boilers so maybe we can save some kids from getting black lung!!!!:)...a REAL problem.

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fish 6 years, 10 months ago

Fishy more than all right. There is room for more than one in every school.

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424now 6 years, 10 months ago

I know how a school district site council works from the inside. There are coucilmembers that look to find the most for the kids and those who are looking to build a carreer. Balance is a tall order but it can happen.

$250,000 sounds like full pop to me. I think the site council could have done a little more hopping around.

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snoman 6 years, 10 months ago

I beleive the importance of accessible playgrounds is important for the school kids and the public who use them when school is not in session. I believe that Connelly and hopefully Crossan and Anderson will support the gift when it comes to the BOE. But I also understand their concerns that there needs to be more legwork done by the organizing group to secure more funding B4 committing a LARGE chunk of Fund Board Reserves to this project. The new athletic field had matching funds and a large volunteer force to help get it completed. BUT, that committee also had community funding in place B4 it went to the Fund Board. This is a great and giving community, especially when it comes to our chidren. The importance of safe, high quality playground equipment that is accessible to all will be supported by this community with financial assistance and volunteer labor. The organizers need to get the word out to the general public and find the support for the project. It does not help when people criticize elected officials who are being fiscally resposible B4 they know all the facts.

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fmrstudentlxa 6 years, 10 months ago

Wow Old Skool didn't even realize there was an issue in South Routt. I agree with you with 10 mil. in reserves there is easily a legitimate argument to help you all out. Especially when the health of staff and students is put at risk.

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Sunspot 6 years, 10 months ago

$800,000 for a playground? Does it include an indoor pool? The swings must cost $10,000 each.

I have to agree with stompk, that's a lot of money and there are plenty of talented people who would be glad to help. I would volunteer too.

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Doug Marsh 6 years, 10 months ago

I too worked on the playgrounds back in the early 80's. I have heard that the new playground has to be built by professionals because of liability issues. Lawyers have to get their cut.

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ColoradoNative 6 years, 10 months ago

WOW...

It's simply amazing what you learn on these forums. I had no idea they were sitting on 10 million cash. Unreal. Get some heaters working properly down south.

DogDog why would all the pay scales have to be adjusted if they can't find enough people to be janitors? They can't simply bump their pay scales independently? That doesn't make sense.

I suggested this on another thread but it sure seems like more people would be able to interact with our local beaurcrats if the city had an online forum. They could tie in the school board while they are at it.

Luckily we have this forum to learn about these hidden little secrets.

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424now 6 years, 10 months ago

Native

I still like the forum idea. It's a good one.

I have noticed no one else signing on. If it gets dropped in other threads though....

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another_local 6 years, 10 months ago

10 million may sound like a lot of money but in proportion to the total annual budget of the district it is a responsible amount of reserves.

I hope that the BOE will recognize that through the mechanism of the Fund Board, the community has said that this is something we want and accept the gift. With that said 750K for two playgorunds seems like a lot to me too. I do hope they are getting bids on this.

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dogdog 6 years, 10 months ago

A reasonable reserves is 20%. $10 million is way above that.

The district wouldn't "have" to raise all pay, but with the hyper-sensitivity to fairness within the district it would not be politically wise to raise one group and not others. The district has trouble getting new teachers, and that would come up.

BTW-Telluride schools start their teachers at almost $40,000 becuase they know how to both create and manage a school budget. Steamboat schools are almost criminal in both their mismangement and their waste. I wish the board would take a hard, objective look at how (and who) is doing their books.

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