$92 million Steamboat Springs school construction bond will be on November ballot | SteamboatToday.com

$92 million Steamboat Springs school construction bond will be on November ballot

Teresa Ristow

This is the property, known as the Overlook property, where the new Steamboat Springs High School will be located if voters approved a $92 million bond in November. The red outline in this graphic shows the majority of the property, which also extends further north, located off Downhill Drive along the western city limit of Steamboat Springs.

— It's official — voters will be asked this November to support a $92 million bond measure to fund the construction of a new high school and upgrades to buildings across the Steamboat Springs School District.

The Steamboat Springs Board of Education voted unanimously Monday in favor of putting the question to voters after a lengthy discussion on the benefits of the project and feedback received so far from the community.

Board members emphasized the long-term benefits of the project, which members said isn't a "band-aid solution."

"This is singularly the biggest decision I will make as a sitting board member, so I don't take this lightly," said board president Roger Good prior to the vote. "It's not going to be an easy plan to execute."

Campaign committee Yes 2 Steamboat Schools co-chair Paula Stephenson said she's anecdotally perceived about 50-50 support for the measure so far.

"I think it's a good plan, and I think it's something my kids deserve," Stephenson said. "It's always easy to say it's the wrong time to do something . . . I think it's the right decision."

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Two community members Monday shared concerns with the board about the future of the Seventh Street site from a historical preservation standpoint, but no community members spoke out against the proposed bond.

If approved, the $92 million generated through the bond measure would pay for the construction of a new high school, allowing elementary and middle students to spread out between existing district campuses.

Additional upgrades and maintenance would take place across the district.

The measure would increase taxes, but board members Scott Bideau and Robin Crossan both said that tax levels would go back to 2002 and 2008 levels.

"It will make a very large impact on both our children and the community, while keeping property taxes below historical levels," Bideau said.

Bideau, who telephoned in for the meeting, acknowledged that there's still a lot of work to be done to get the community on board with the plan.

"Educating the voters on this plan will require significant effort over the next two months," he said. "And while we have a responsibility to educate our constituents, they have a responsibility to educate themselves."

Following the vote, Good said he was interested in forming a bond accountability committee made up of community members including those from the construction, finance and real estate sectors.

The committee would serve the public by ensuring that the school district is a good steward of the funds, if they are received.

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