Steamboat Springs Two new modular classrooms are being installed at Soda Creek Elementary School this week, adding additional teaching space as enrollment across the district continues to creep up.
As of Tuesday, district officials expected 2,460 students to report to class Aug. 26, though students who have relocated and last-minute registrations may cause that number to fluctuate.
Over the summer, the Steamboat Springs School District has spent $2.8 million in deferred maintenance, building upgrades and technology improvements.
The projects were funded through board-approved Certificates of Participation, which allow the district to borrow the money for the work and pay it back through the money saved in energy costs. The program is run by Navitas, an energy services company.
This summer, facilities projects included:
• New window projects were completed at Steamboat Springs Middle School and Strawberry Park Elementary
• New lighting was installed at most district buildings
• Refinished floor for the Eighth Street gym
• New bleachers at Steamboat Springs High School and Steamboat Springs Middle School
• 60 new iPads across the district
• Security cameras: all cleaned, focused and with new servers and software upgrade
• 40 new staff computers across the district
• Staff migrated to Chrome and Google email system; students and staff set up with Google Apps accounts
•Computer labs at Steamboat Springs High School rewired and reconfigured to accommodate more computers
“It looks like we are going to continue to go up,” District Superintendent Brad Meeks said.
Meeks said enrollment has grown steadily since he took the helm in 2011, from 2,282 students that year to 2,401 last fall.
The modular classrooms were purchased by the district at a cost of about $250,000, and four units of fifth-graders at Soda Creek will utilize them. Meeks said desks and chairs are stacked up and ready to be moved into the modulars.
This week, the district is installing ramps on the buildings, which arrived in four halves driven in from Texas. The buildings will need to be checked for ADA and fire compliance, and the district then will seek a certificate of occupancy from the city of Steamboat Springs.
With the extra space added through the modulars, art and computer rooms on campus now can return to their normal functions, Meeks said.
The Soda Creek campus was rebuilt and opened in 2008 with plenty of room for the 389 students who enrolled that fall. District officials didn't anticipate that enrollment would continue to rise, with 565 students expected at the start of school next week.
“I think it's a bit surprising that it keeps going up,” Meeks said.
Soda Creek's 86 fifth-graders are some of the 191 in the grade across the district. The largest class this year is expected to be the sixth grade, which is projected to have 206 students when classes begin next week.
The district has hired a demographer to study enrollment and make projections, and the results are set to be revealed during Monday's School Board meeting, Meeks said.
“We're doing this demographic study to see if this is just a bubble of students or if the growth is more permanent and sustained,” he said.
Meeks said the region has a steady annual birth rate, but new young families and transfer students have contributed to the increase in enrollment.
If enrollment continues steadily increasing, the district may begin discussing the possibility of adding a third elementary school, Meeks said.
To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow