South Routt School District thanks its residents with new open-gym calendar | SteamboatToday.com

South Routt School District thanks its residents with new open-gym calendar

Ben Ingersoll

— November ballot voters did their part by approving $354,357 annually in property taxes that go directly to the South Routt School District, so the district wanted to return the favor a bit.

District Superintendent Darci Mohr and the rest of the school board like to look at it as a thank you to South Routt community members for saying “yes” to the annual revenue that more or less became must-have academic dollars down the road.

So with a little funding approval from the board, Mohr and the district decided to open its doors after hours to the community.

The first concept was to open up the gym to Oak Creek and neighboring residents starting in late November. Kids and adults can shoot hoops in Soroco High School’s pair of gyms on a scheduled basis. They also simply can hang out, using the after-school-hours operation as a free social type of event. Sometimes, games are facilitated by gym monitors. The long-term goal is to expand the open gym to academics, as well.

"The board of education and I were talking about how we might be able to thank the community," Mohr said. "I had already been kind of thinking of some of these things, but when it all came together, we were so pleased with what the voters did for us and how strong their response was, we wanted to find a way to thank them. This started falling together."

The two current Soroco Middle School after-school mentors Tuesdays and Thursdays were hired to stay later on those days and monitor the new open-gym events. In order to keep it inexpensive for the district, Mohr also solicited parent volunteers to stand in as host chaperones.

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The superintendent said community participation hasn’t exactly been robust, but it has been picking up in recent weeks as more residents find out about the opportunity and word spreads during the holiday break.

The second — and perhaps most significant — thank you from the district to the community comes in the form of additional activity bus hours free of charge to shuttle open-gym goers to and from their homes.

It started in the fall with assistant football coach and bus driver Scott Delto’s willingness to drop student-athletes off at their homes in Phippsburg, Oak Creek, Yampa and even Stagecoach using the district’s activities bus.

When the fall sports season wrapped up in November, Mohr asked the school board for the leeway to continue the additional bus service.

The board agreed, and thanks to another round of volunteers, community members are able to use the free ride all along Colorado Highway 131. The district hopes it can expand the service even more than it has, too. Currently, it runs two to four nights each week as needed and doesn’t run on nights with Soroco athletics home events happening.

"It’s to help parents since we were already kind of doing it anyway," Mohr said. "We’re hoping to keep it going and have enough interest to finish out the school year."

On top of fostering a stronger partnership between the district and the community, Mohr said the schools are working on a joint-use agreement with the town of Oak Creek’s facilities.

It’s still being finalized by both parties, but the plan is to open South Routt School District’s facilities free of charge to the town government in exchange for the town opening its building for district use, such as meetings in the Town Hall on occasion.

"By having this joint-use agreement in place, we agree to kind of share back and forth, rather than not partner," Mohr said.

A full list of open-gym availability can be found on the South Routt School District’s website under the "Event Calendar" tab.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll