Katy Lee: 3C, 3D address district’s critical maintenance issues
October 17, 2017
There are two tax proposals for school funding on the upcoming ballot that merit wider community discussion.
Ballot question 3D is a $12.9 million bond request to repair roofs, correct the HVAC system at the middle school and address safety issues at Gardner field. Ballot question 3C is an ongoing mill levy that would raise $1 million a year year to cover future maintenance costs.
While we can spend long hours debating about how our per-pupil funding ranks compared to the rest of the state, whether funding numbers should be reported differently, and if we should have chosen different spending priorities, none of that changes our current circumstances. We can only decide where to go now.
The district has critical maintenance issues that just don't make sense to put off.
We have five roofs that are past end of life. The middle school currently has inadequate ventilation in a significant portion of the building and needs heating and cooling upgrades. In addition, Gardner bleachers are a safety hazard and the testing indicates the field must be replaced to be playable in the next few years.
These critical maintenance issues will have to be addressed at some point if we are to retain the value of our past investment. Gambling on whether or not the roofs will hold for a few more winters, ignoring the impact of poor environmental controls at the middle school and risking at least temporary closure of a valuable community athletic facility has no benefit.
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Construction costs in the mountain regions of Colorado have been and are predicted to continue to increase by over 14 percent yearly, and there is no indication that we will be receiving additional funding from the state in the near future. We must solve these issues locally.
The proposed ongoing mill levy would keep us from finding ourselves in this situation again. Even as we continue to look for opportunities to reduce our expenses, funding the remaining deferred maintenance and keeping pace with ongoing maintenance will require additional income if we are not to significantly impact class size and programming.
Low student-to-teacher ratios and a varied curriculum are part of what sets Steamboat apart from other highly ranked public schools in the state.
Our schools are an integral part of the community. They attract young families to Steamboat, help maintain property values and produce many of our future citizens. If these two issues do not pass, we put our investment in district facilities at risk. Please take the time to be properly informed and get out to vote on Nov. 7.