Superintendent’s Corner: Steamboat Springs School District plans ahead for growth
October 18, 2017
In a recent letter to Steamboat Today, the Steamboat Springs Board of Education recognized that Steamboat's exceptional quality of life is attracting more and more people to our community. Steamboat Today articles announce emerging housing developments and the recent purchase of Steamboat Ski Resort. A hospital partnership was also announced this summer. These are all signs of a growing community, as is the growth in the number of students in the Steamboat Springs School District.
You may have seen in the Aug. 28 Steamboat Today article, record freshman class bumps Steamboat Springs High School enrollment to 839 students. Throughout the district, a total of 200 new students, in first through twelfth grade, enrolled in our schools at the start of the school year. As I shared with the Steamboat Today reporter, 75 are from other Colorado schools, 94 are from 22 different states and 12 are from other countries.
As reported this week by the Steamboat Today, Steamboat school district enrolls 2,623 students, 5 years ahead of prediction, we have more students in our schools than we expected this year. However, both our facilities and our staff are ready to serve and support every student with the individualized and innovative programming and experiences that are synonymous with our schools. Even though we continue to find ways to handle the growth without making major changes, that will not be the case as growth continues into the future.
We are proactively looking at enrollment trends. Traditionally, a district uses birth rates as a primary indicator of future student enrollment. In Steamboat Springs however, we are seeing a growing trend of professionals moving their families into the area. This trend is not as easy to predict.
While we don't have a crystal ball, we don't need one to know that we should expect student enrollment to continue to increase in the years to come and that this is something that we must anticipate and plan to accommodate. This fall, our community will have the opportunity to consider basic improvements to the district's infrastructure, including roof replacements, HVAC for Steamboat Springs Middle School and renovations to Gardner Field. Planning will continue later this fall to develop long-term solutions and strategies for our infrastructure that will serve the needs of our students far into the future.
Through our strategic planning process, we will be identifying opportunities to do more with what we have. School capacity is a bit of a puzzle. Students, teachers and classes are all pieces of that puzzle that can be moved around within a building to maximize the instructional space we currently have available. We will be exploring all possible options to meet our current and future needs. As we do so, we will continue to prioritize providing our exceptional educators with the appropriate program space, resources and support to design lessons and relevant experiences that motivate and prepare students to be productive global citizens with the potential to change the world.
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Brad Meeks is the Steamboat Springs School District superintendent.