Close your eyes for a moment and imagine, "Ski Pueblo" — the snow kind. This idea can come to life fully. You know: “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

Miller’s Landing, a Castle Rock mixed-use project, the centerpiece of which is a year-round snow sport complex, is being developed. It will accommodate 400 skiers an hour on synthetic material. Pueblo could have an “experimental lifestyle district” much like our northern neighbor.

The city of Pueblo has a longstanding “Honor Farm” master plan for private development at a site near U.S. 50 West and Pueblo Boulevard.

There is another way to approach this, too. The street superintendent for Steamboat Springs reports that during the snow season, enough snow is removed from streets and parking lots to fill one football field to a depth of 35 feet. Their challenge is the sheer volume of snow and where to put it. Pueblo’s snow season normally generates inches of snow. The Steamboat snow can be transported to Pueblo to be put to use on our snow sport park.

Can’t imagine this? It’s not easy to shift the branding or visual identity of a community from “The

Steel City” or “Home of Heroes” to "Ski Pueblo." This holds true for our schools, too. But changing the nomenclature of a school to a “community school” doesn’t have to be baffling.

The idea behind the name will tackle the root causes of the challenges of a school. Just as we can make "Ski Pueblo" come to life, our imagination can become reality when it comes to a community school.

The “community school” name embodies at its very heart the notion of opportunity and the promise that we can — each of us — illuminate a healthy path forward for our children, while embracing our quality of life, strongly rooted in our city’s history and our values. It is a hub for families and students to receive support and services.

There is a missed opportunity to stimulate the connection of schools to lifelong learning whenever we talk about our schools being managed by the state or a management company, or re-configuring schools, including consolidations and closings, because of expensive needed capital improvements. A rare opportunity is at hand to discuss how we can assist our children to learn to read, imagine and think so they will graduate from high school, and will attend our college and university to share the power of their ideas and to train for their chosen profession.

Among other things, community schools can:

• Attract and retain well-paid teachers and school coordinators.

• Provide modern classroom materials and supplies.

• Engage families in improved school buildings.

We pay for this by making sure the Pueblo City Schools (D60) budget is streamlined and by raising local, state and federal revenue. Pueblo voters can raise revenue for D60 by finally passing a mill levy override.

This additional property tax revenue will attract and retain well-paid teachers, the fiduciaries of our children who facilitate their lifelong learning.

Along with the mill levy override, more operational state tax dollars for D60 can be appropriated in the state Public School Finance Act to provide modern classroom materials and supplies to assist teachers as they touch the minds of our children.

There’s more good news. Pueblo voters can approve a bond issue to pay for capital improvements. The bonds can be offered in stages, with a clear understanding of what repairs are to be made incrementally. If the district does not utilize the funds as promised, then future bond issues would be at risk.

And we can fix school buildings by insisting that the state distribute more capital improvement funds to declining enrollment districts such as ours. Moreover, the Legislature can pass a new state law which would establish a state-level emergency reserve of general fund revenue to cover each school district’s emergency reserves, rather than current state law requiring an emergency reserve at the local level, freeing up millions of dollars of local reserves for one-time use by a district.

Under a variety of federal programs, certain levels of student poverty may allow federal assistance in paying the debt service on district bonds issued for improvements.

With quality educational opportunities comes an entrepreneurial spirit and the confidence of new businesses to invest and locate in Pueblo. Existing small businesses will want to expand, too. "Ski Pueblo" can be more than an imagined idea.

Bill Thiebaut served in the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate from 1987 to 2002. He was the Senate majority leader from 2000 to 2002. From 2005 to 2012, he was the district attorney in Pueblo. He currently serves on the Colorado Transportation Commission.