Bette Vandahl: CC4E effort accomplished a lot
October 19, 2017
Having resigned from the Community Committee for Education — CC4E — on Aug. 22, I can not leave without acknowledging and thanking the wonderfully talented and committed citizens that began organizing February 2016 with the mandate to understand what our community believes is most important for the best education of our students.
Mary Darcy, Jeanne Mackowski, Robin Schepper, Kevin Sankey, Chris Johnson, Stephanie Smith, Liam Hahn, Cristina Magill, Clark Davidson, Karl Bunker, Dean Vogelaar, Kyle Paolantonio, Collin Kelly, Kevin Taulman, Dr. Brad Meeks, Tyler Gibbs, Chad Phillips and Tammy Lake, members of the facility committee, took time from their families and worked endless hours with no compensation for more than 14 months to take on this important but daunting task.
They gathered feedback, organized it and added their input as some of the most knowledgeable members of our community. They then advised the Steamboat Springs School District board, the superintendent and the community of the results along with recommendations.
A member could spend on the average of more than 10 hours per week gathering, analyzing and sharing the information they had. Forums were held, comments from students and the community were compiled, task forces were organized and more time was given.
Finance, demographics, programs, policy/accountability and facility options were all examined with the goal of understanding how the school district functions in relation to what the community values.
CC4E's membership was comprised of a cross section of the community with varying views, which contributed to some very contentious meetings, but in my opinion, the committee was reflective of Steamboat's own diversity and thus a true asset for our district's understanding of what our community values.
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I want you to know that the CC4E was very mindful of SSSD's tight budget and thus did all it could to not be a financial burden by not only volunteering but pursuing contributions to offset costs of forums and advertising.
Special thanks to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, who was an essential partner and supported the CC4E facility recommendations in an editorial. They hosted forums in their building and had a reporter at almost every meeting. I would like to personally thank Lisa Schlichtman, editor, and Teresa Ristow, reporter, for their coverage of both forums and recommendations.
The Sheraton and the city provided space for forums, Alpine Bank, Mountain Valley Bank and other members contributed cash, and many groups allowed and encouraged presentations so that they would be informed and have an opportunity to give feedback — a true community effort.
Our facility recommendations that were the results of what the majority could agree on were provided to the school board and to the community on May 8 with a vision of a centrally-located high school and middle school with neighborhood elementaries. An immediate addition to the high school and a gym at Strawberry Park were recommended to improve functioning at their current locations and address immediate capital repair. Because of the new Montessori Charter School's enrollment growth, the CC4E recommendation did not include the immediate building of a new elementary.
I set out to explain how much effort had been expended on helping our school district understand what our community values and, in the case of facilities, will pay for, but I just can't do justice to what was accomplished.
I am not sure what the future makeup of CC4E will look like, but to be a resource that tells it like it is, they will have to stay separate from the district and be the voice of the student, parent and community. Will the SSSD listen and respect their view? We will have to wait and see.
Please log on to CC4E.org to understand what path will be taken in the future and who is involved.