Modular classrooms likely on the way to Soda Creek Elementary

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— Soda Creek Elementary School is overflowing with students — that much the Steamboat Springs School District knows.

What remains uncertain, however, is pinpointing the cause of the heavy influx of students, or deciding how exactly to meet the needs of an increasing enrollment during the 2014-15 school year and beyond.

At the district’s second-to-last school board meeting of the 2013-14 year Monday, Superintendent Brad Meeks, Maintenance and Transportation Director Pascal Ginesta and both principals at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools explored the space concerns and presented a few options to make sure students have enough room to learn in the future.

“We’re going to need to do something, whether it’s adding one modular or two modulars,” Meeks said, noting he has had recent discussions with demographers to further evaluate enrollment numbers.

Three different options were explored Monday, but no decision by the board or the district has been made yet.

The first option looks at adding two modular units to the Soda Creek campus, which would facilitate four classrooms. Fifth grade’s four sections would use the four temporary classrooms, with the 23 kindergarten through fourth-grade sections meeting in the existing campus building.

Art, which is currently offered in the original teachers' lounge, would relocate to its designated room. Spanish, which right now is offered on a cart and makes its rounds to Soda Creek classes, would get its own room, and an additional computer lab would be added — a high-demand item given the state’s move toward online standardized testing.

The second option would add only one modular unit, creating two new classrooms dedicated to a pair of fifth-grade sections. There would be 25 kindergarten through fourth-grade sections in the existing building along with the remaining two fifth-grade sections. Spanish and art would remain as they are currently, and two computer labs would be made available.

The third option, which attracted little discussion Monday and seems an unlikely scenario, would include no modular additions.

This third option also proposes the idea of increasing class sizes from 28 to 30 for third through fifth grades and from 23 to 25 for kindergarten through second grades.

“We’ve had these space concerns for a while, but we use every nook and cranny,” Soda Creek Principal Michele Miller said.

Ginesta, who said he favors a modular option that is one unit with four classroom spaces, said the temporary units cost about $118,000 apiece, not including the site work needed, such as sidewalks. The transportation and maintenance director said he’s been busy shopping around for different units and weighing potential costs.

Money to fund the purchase or rental costs of the units would come from the district’s capital reserves.

Enrollment has left the district scratching its head for more than a year. In the beginning, birth rate figures were closely examined to see if newborn trends were the reason for increasing student numbers. The spike in enrollment, however, doesn’t align directly with birth rates.

Meeks said he met with the city last week to get information on building permits for the last 10 years. The recession severely slowed construction, he said, but even the nature of the information shows the probable need to add a new elementary school down the road.

When Soda Creek opened the doors to its existing building for the first time, enrollment was at less than 400 students. Today, more than 550 students fill the building.

The superintendent said before serious discussions about building a new elementary school begin, he wants harder data on his desk that addresses enrollment trends.

District recognizes educators of the year

For the first time ever, a Yampa Valley High School teacher was nominated and honored as a Steamboat Springs School District Educator of the Year.

Chuck Rosemond, the alternative school’s social science and lead teacher, accepted the award at Monday night’s school board meeting.

“I had a staff member for the Yampa Valley High School come to me earlier on and ask if we could nominate him,” district curriculum director Marty Lamansky said. “I said absolutely. I think the fact that Chuck also became the Educator of the Year shows the value he has. We couldn’t be more fortunate to have a better school leader than Chuck.”

Lamansky said Rosemond’s job is unique, operating in an alternative school environment where situations can change rapidly.

“He has clearly defined their mission, and they have made enormous strides in how they reach students in the district,” Lamansky said.

The board also recognized Meghan Alexander, of Soda Creek Elementary; Carol Harris, of Strawberry Park Elementary; Kerry Kerrigan, of Steamboat Springs Middle School; and Larry Gravelle, of Steamboat Springs High School, as Educators of the Year.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

Comments

Lee Cox 7 months ago

Why hide the educator of the year at the end of another article? Chuck and the other teachers deserve their own article!

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Scott Wedel 7 months ago

I'm surprised that the number of out of district students accepted into SSSD isn't even considered. SSSD is known to have accepted a substantial number of students that live in Hayden and Soroco school districts. A little investigation would reveal more whom once lived in SSSD boundaries, but have moved out of district while retaining a SB mailing address. It is possible that there would be no need for modulars if SSSD wasn't so kind at accepting out of district students. Maybe that policy should be maintained, but it should be discussed in the context of crowded schools and maybe needing to build another school.

A new school is needed at Stagecoach which is a regional population center without an elementary school. But it is in Soroco's district with a large percentage of students attending SB schools.

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jerry carlton 7 months ago

Scott W. Having now met you I want to apologize for nicknaming you Oz on this forum. That was rude of me. For me and I suspect others, the internet and this forum depersonalizes people that do not agree with each other and who have never met each other. That said, I agree with your above post. However I suspect that many of the children going to school from outlying areas do so because their parents commute to Steamboat for work and come in with their parents. On the kinder, gentler side of the equation, SBS school district certainly has more financial resources to build or expand than do Hayden or South Routt. I think consolidation of the three districts would definitely be in the best interest of Hayden and SOROCO but I would be amazed if that ever happened.

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Jeff Kibler 7 months ago

Jerry, at the time that moniker was apropos. Now I find myself giving Scott W quite a few thumbs-up. I guess somewhere I missed his fiscal conservatism. Oops, Scott, your fiscal pragmatism.

Scott W, keep up your search of governmental waste and redundancy. You and Scott F might bring some fiscal responsibility to our lonely hamlet.

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bill schurman 7 months ago

Jerry, What's going on here? We seem to be agreeing these days.

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rhys jones 7 months ago

I've got to concur. Scott W appears to have made a concerted effort to curtail the sheer volume, not to mention editorial tone, of his contributions. Recent writings have been much more concise and to the point, well-researched and backed, and less authoritative. (Law and traffic matters notwithstanding.) I myself have been less than kind in some of my remarks in the past, an insensitivity I have come to regret. Please accept my apologies, Scott, and keep doing our homework for us!!

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Scott Wedel 7 months ago

I think the ability for Hayden area parents that are dissatisfied with the Hayden School District to enroll their students in SSSD has served to largely remove the pressure on Hayden to improve the quality of their schools. The difference in instructional days between Hayden and SSSD/Soroco should be expected to make a difference.

SSSD and Soroco already cooperate at many levels and have similar number of instruction days and so on. They could consolidate with hardly anyone noticing if they allowed Soroco schools to have a slightly different calendar year.

And SSSD and Soroco have the issue of Stagecoach that I don't see how it can be solved without a consolidation. Almost everyone in Stagecoach with a job commutes to SB for work. So it is easy to bring students to SB.

Soroco does a good job, but Stagecoach is such a problem. Soroco is a large district so it makes sense to put the elementary school in Yampa. But for Stagecoach parents working in SB that means their kids are a long drive if there is an emergency. And many parents consider a small high school to be limiting and prefer sending their kids to a large high school. SSSD's academic excellence further motivates parents to bring their kids to SB.

I believe that Stagecoach is now the largest population center in South Routt and it appears to be the fastest growing part of Soroco. I think there is going to be consolidation sooner or later. If the state's funding rules ever penalized wealthy districts as was proposed last year then talk of consolidation would probably accelerate.

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jerry carlton 7 months ago

Bill We just have not discussed any criminal justice items lately. I think we are both reasonable people but have different opinions based on life experiences. You dealt with people in the "system" while they still had something to gain and were on their best behavior. I dealt with some that were leaving for prison for long periods of time, some life, and had very little to gain by behaving.

Rhys Did you see the end of the Rockies game last night? WOW!

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rhys jones 7 months ago

Jerry -- I heard it in a state of semi-consciousness; last I remember it was tied at 3, but I had made the mistake of retiring to a horizontal surface to catch the remainder, then dropped my eyelids, raising them only for the sounds of excitement... so I can't say I saw it, but I heard it, so I could shut it off then. I was WAY tired from wrestling with this box all day. Sorry I missed it!! Mostly. Just wait 'til tonight.

I'll agree on another point too: The forums have been really dry lately. We need a good controversy or tragic event to liven things up in here.

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jerry carlton 7 months ago

Rhys Lets go for the controversy. The deaths of two young children were enough tragedy to last this community forever. Rockies were not so good last night. Had their chance in bottom of eighth, bases loaded with no outs, but only one run out of it. Really need to win tonight to go to 2 behind instead of 4 behind.

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rhys jones 7 months ago

Man, I stuck it out this time, hung with the Rocks to the bitter end, it even made me late to bluegrass... and for WHAT?? The Giants have got some pitching, silenced our big bats.

That the Rockies are even still in the race, at this advanced point in the season, is cause for celebration in itself. They're FUN to watch again!! Usually.

Controversy? How about a thief or three at YVHA? I think City money spent on a line-by-line accounting of their finances over the years might turn up some bugs. But this is good-ol'-boy politics; everybody's in somebody's pocket; that'll never happen.

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jerry carlton 7 months ago

Glad I do not live in Denver for the last 3 days especially. Game washed out tonight.

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