School board willing to jeopardize vacations to meet ballot deadlines? | SteamboatToday.com

School board willing to jeopardize vacations to meet ballot deadlines?

On July 18, Steamboat Springs School Board will weigh the best way to proceed with capital needs across the school district.

Members of the Steamboat Springs School Board had reason to worry this week about the status of their summer vacation plans.

As they continue the march toward a presumed November ballot question to ask the voters for millions of dollars needed for school construction  projects, the board's meeting schedule is growing into the heart of summer.

And even as school board members checked the calendar and their airline reservations, there is no consensus yet on what projects they would like to tackle in phase one of a multi-year plan. In addition to an announced June 26 special meeting, the  board agreed, at the end of a four-hour meeting Monday, it would need an additional special meeting July 10.

"I've heard from a couple of (board members) that they'd like to see a timeline to make sure we have time for this board to talk and to hash out some things," School Board President Joey Andrew said. "What are you thinking we can accomplish?"

“I’ve heard from board members that they’d like to see a timeline to make sure we have time to talk and to hash out some things." – Steamboat Springs School Board President Joey Andrew

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Board member Margaret Huron responded she is counting on building some consensus among the members of the board on June 26.

"I'd like to make substantial progress as to what we're all thinking about for projects," Huron said. "There may be some devils in the details but we need to give (the board's consultants at) NV5 the information they need to bundle projects (to achieve economies of scale) with building contractors,” Huron said.

School Superintendent Brad Meeks said he too wants to explore how the school district could strategically bundle capital project options to better estimate what kind of price reductions they might get from contractors. And that exercise could be carried out without committing to the projects, he added.

The expectation is that at the end of the June 26 meeting, the board will be prepared to alert the Routt County Clerk's Office as to whether the district is going forward with a mill levy override or a bond issue or both. But the meat of the question — exactly what the school board's highest construction priorities are? — will likely wait until the July 10 meeting.

NV5's Colleen Kaneda confirmed this week that the latest estimate for completing deferred maintenance projects at Steamboat's schools is $12.7 million, and of the total, $5.3 million is attributable to the fairly urgent need to re-roof the high school, Strawberry Park Middle School, the administration building and the transportation facility.

Although no decision has been made, it has strongly been hinted the roofing projects would be included in a phase one funding request of voters. Another "urgent"  priority, according to Meeks, is refurbishing the high school's stadium, track and playing field with new all-season turf and a resurfaced running track.

New heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems for the middle school are also high on the list.

Beyond that, big-ticket items like a classroom addition to the high school and construction of a third elementary school are all priorities.

Meeks reassured the board that the county clerk has already been alerted to the school district’s plans to add ballot questions beyond the open director seats this fall. He added that the board does not have to make the final decision on the subject of ballot questions until the end of July.

Andrew said he hopes that on June 26 the board will get to some level of consensus on what its top projects are  for phase one of the district's construction plan and which can wait.

"Whether it's a new gym (for Strawberry Park Elementary School) or security improvements,"  that board members want most, Andrew said, he'd like to see the lesser priorities "out of the way, so we can get those (projects) attractive to us, closer to us."

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1