$92 million school bond opposition group forms | SteamboatToday.com

$92 million school bond opposition group forms

'Citizens for a Better Plan' say district plan has bad location, high cost

Students walk towards Steamboat Springs High School on the first day of class in 2012. A group called Citizens for a Better Plan is opposing the school district's $92 million bond question

— A group opposing the Steamboat Springs School District’s $92 million bond question has come together under the name Citizens for a Better Plan.

The group is against the bond for a handful of reasons, primarily because it moves the district high school from downtown and because it increases the capacity of the high school, which group members don’t believe is necessary.

Members also shared concerns about the fiscal responsibility of the plan and about the appropriateness of the district’s decision to allow an architect and owner’s representative to run public meetings when they stand to financially benefit based on the extensiveness of the project.

“This is not the best way,” said Mary Darcy, an organizing member of Citizens for a Better Plan. “This [plan] may help in some ways, but it causes the high school students to lose a lot, and at $92 million dollars, we don’t feel it’s being fiscally prudent.”

Darcy said the community is lucky to have a walkable neighborhood high school and to throw it away by moving it to the west end of Steamboat would be “a big loss.”

The group also points out that a demographic study presented last August showed the need for a new elementary or new kindergarten through eighth-grade school, not added capacity at the high school.

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“Building a new high school is most certainly not the only way to solve this problem,” Darcy said.

Darcy, who attended some of the district’s public meetings, said she believes the district rushed the planning process, arriving at a decision too soon. She also didn’t think it was necessarily appropriate that an owner’s representative and architect led the public meetings, considering that if they’re hired to carry out the project, they stand to financially benefit from the most extensive option.

Darcy is a past president of the middle school’s Parent Information Committee and past District Accountability Committee member. She said other members of the group include current PIC and former DAC members, a former school employee and a Booster Club member.

Citizens for a Better Plan member Beth Wilhelm said she’d like to see the district abandon this option and this year’s bond measure and come back to the voters next year with a proposal that costs less and keeps the high school where it is. She suggested an option to build a new elementary and move sixth grade into district elementary schools, freeing up space at the middle school.

“There’s so many great options that would not be $92 million — that is outrageous,” said Wilhelm, who serves on the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board’s Grant Commission.

Although she lives off Elk River Road, Wilhelm said she doesn’t think a high school should be placed in the area, citing traffic concerns and the proximity to marijuana dispensaries and a nearby shooting range.

While the group is against the district’s current plan for a new high school, Darcy said many of Citizens for a Better Plan’s members are parents, and the group isn’t against building a new school or using taxes to pay for it.

“We really want to see the right thing happen — we do want another school,” Darcy said. “We really don’t want to be seen as an anti-tax, anti-school group.”

More information about the group is available at http://www.citizensforabetterplansteamboat.com.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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