Our View: Move forward with consolidation study

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Editorial Board, January through May 8, 2011

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter
  • Traci Day, community representative
  • Dean Vogelaar, community representative

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— The mere suggestion of change can trigger an emotional response, and perhaps that’s why we weren’t surprised by the reaction of some South Routt school officials to talk of district consolidation last week. It’s hard to blame School Board President Tim Corrigan and Superintendent Scott Mader for being protective of their schools, but their comments seem to overlook their responsibility to consider all possibilities with regards to how to best educate our county’s youths.

To that end, we applaud the Education Fund Board for its willingness to discuss funding a consolidation study for Routt County’s three public school districts. The Fund Board, whose members haven’t officially discussed such a study, should not be deterred by the pessimism expressed in Oak Creek last week, but rather empowered by the possibility of helping a process that could eventually lead to a higher-quality, more efficient public education system for Routt County families.

In the end, consolidating Routt County’s three districts into one may not make sense. But what if it does? What if consolidation saved taxpayer money while also expanding the educational and extracurricular opportunities for all county schoolchildren, regardless of their mailing address? What if it helped curb the seemingly annual budget cuts experienced in each of our districts? What if it helped boost student achievement?

We can’t possibly know the answers to these questions until a thorough analysis has been conducted by an independent consultant. But we do know this: Consolidation is not synonymous with school closures, as Corrigan suggested last week. Community schools are not the same as community school districts. It is possible to have one without the other.

It’s important that the consolidation discussion be entered into with mutual respect for each of the individual communities and an acknowledgment of our mutual dependence on one another. We don’t want to see schools in Routt County close. We simply want to see a study that examines what might work.

We expect our kids to enter school with open minds for the things they’ll learn each and every day. We expect the same open-mindedness from local school officials when it comes to exploring what’s best for kids throughout Routt County.

Comments

JusWondering 3 years ago

If this were Facebook, I would "Like" this Op Ed piece. Right on the money with this one.

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kyle pietras 3 years ago

What if it costs a lot of money to get a crappy analysis and it gets followed and .......... analyze this: Your spending money to take money from schools! It shouldn't be that hard to see top heavy districts need a trim. Kids people, its about the kids Spend the money on the KIDS!

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Scott Wedel 3 years ago

The financial situation for the local school districts will look quite a bit different next week after the county assessor's new property values are released. It should be obvious that the State of Colorado is not going to make up for declines in local property tax revenues for upcoming years.

Why assume it would cost lots of money for a crappy analysis? Should be straightforward to find other Colorado school districts that have consolidated and see how affected administrative costs of the combined district along with any academic, athletic or rivalry problems (or benefits) of the consolidation. Consolidation is not rocket science trying to venture where none have gone before where any predictions would be highly speculative. Consolidation has happened before and there are probably clear parallels involving a larger central district combing with a spread out rural district.

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JusWondering 3 years ago

Kyle: the benefit of hiring a professional to compete the study is that they have done this before and know far more than us armchair quarterbacks on both sides of the question.

With or without a study, what we are doing today cannot be what we will do tomorrow. We can't afford it. Wouldn't it at least be worth it to ask someone with no emotional attachment to the situation what they thought?

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