Steamboat Springs School District continues to attract students from Hayden, Soroco | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs School District continues to attract students from Hayden, Soroco

— The Steamboat Springs School District continues to attract a significant number of new students from the Hayden and South Routt school districts.

And the steady stream of pending applications for the students has some Steamboat Springs School Board members wondering how much longer the district can continue accepting the new students when its elementary schools already are at capacity and enrollment inside the district also continues to grow.

"For whatever we’ve done, we’ve created a better mouse trap. People are coming here, and we, as a board and the community, need to make a decision as to how many we can accommodate," School Board President Brian Kelly said Monday night after the district announced it has 24 out-of-district applications pending for next school year.

Board Vice President Denise Connelly said the district should start to have a conversation about whether new classrooms or modulars will be needed in the coming school years if the growth continues.

Administrative assistant Deb Ginesta said 17 of the pending applications for next school year are for students who live in the South Routt School District boundaries, and the remaining seven are in Hayden.

She said nearly all of the applications are for elementary school students, and half of them are for kindergarten.

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This school year, Steamboat educated about 112 students from Hayden and South Routt.

"The numbers are really high," Ginesta said about the new applications. "Twelve kindergartners is almost its own class."

She added that kindergarten enrollment at Soda Creek Elementary School is full, and Strawberry Park Elementary School has some spots remaining.

In August, the district will look at enrollment numbers and decide how many of the out-of-district applications it can accept.

Stagecoach charter school

The Stagecoach Property Owners Association recently launched a new survey to gauge the community’s interest in establishing a charter school that could serve students there. Two years ago, the South Routt School Board talked about pursuing a new elementary school in Stagecoach on a 9-acre parcel near the Eagle's Nest and Red Hawk Village subdivisions it owns. In 2009, Stagecoach parents also unsuccessfully pushed for a new charter school.

Ginesta said several of Steamboat’s new out-of-district applications are from parents in South Routt who work in Steamboat and find it easier and more convenient to have their children attend school here instead of the elementary school in Yampa, 30 miles south of Steamboat.

The ongoing trend of Soroco losing some of its students to Steamboat comes as the Stagecoach Property Owners Association recently launched a survey to gauge the community’s interest in establishing a new charter school that could serve students there.

South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader last month received an email from the association announcing the survey.

"If there is adequate interest, then taking subsequent steps including completing a charter application and associated feasibility evaluation may follow," the association wrote in the email.

Two years ago, then-South Routt School Board President Tim Corrigan said he wanted the board to start talking seriously about adding a new school on a 9-acre parcel of district-owned land across from the Eagle's Nest subdivision in Stagecoach.

The comments followed an ultimately unsuccessful push by Stagecoach parents in 2009 to pursue a new charter school.

"We certainly need to maintain every effort to retain the students we have living in our community," Corrigan told the Steamboat Today in 2011. "I believe an elementary school in Stagecoach would be a huge factor in helping to do that."

Corrigan said Thursday that he still thinks a charter school that adequately could serve the community of Stagecoach would help the district retain students.

"But having said that, I think the obstacles of putting together a charter school application are still pretty daunting," Corrigan said.

Mader agrees.

"We were looking several years ago and investigating the thought of what it would take to put maybe a multigrade school out there (in Stagecoach), and we couldn’t financially make it work for us," he said. "Right now, it just wouldn’t work financially. I wish the district could do something out there; I really do."

With or without a new charter school, Mader said Thursday that his district will work to retain as many of its students as it can.

"It is concerning," he said about the continuing trend of out-of-district enrollment. "We want to keep as many students as we can, and that’s why we worked hard on our academic achievement, and our scores are showing that."

Mader noted that his district educates some students who live in Steamboat and are drawn to South Routt by its vocational agriculture program.

"We know we have a smaller setting for them and personalized education, and we have programs no other district has," Mader said.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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