Steamboat School Board candidates differ on Prop 103 |

Steamboat School Board candidates differ on Prop 103

School Board hopefuls address election forum

A large crowd of local residents showed up at the Steamboat Springs Community Center on Thursday night to listen as candidates for Steamboat Springs School Board and Steamboat Springs City Council speak at an election forum sponsored by the Steamboat Pilot & Today, Routt County Democratic Party, the Routt County Republicans and the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors.

— Candidates in Steamboat Springs' only contested school board race touted their experience as educators and offered contrasting views of Proposition 103 during an election forum Thursday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

Rebecca Williams, a former Steamboat Springs High School teacher, and Sandra Sharp, an adjunct faculty member at Colorado Mountain College, also were asked what school programs they would save in the face of budget cuts and what role a student's academic achievement should play as school districts evaluate their teachers and principals each year.

Asked whether they supported Proposition 103, a proposed statewide tax increase that would fund public education in Colorado, Williams said she will vote for the tax measure, while Sharp said she opposes it.

"Personally I will vote for it because I think it will be money well spent," Williams said, adding she didn't want to "see programs that benefit students go away" because of a lack of funding.

Williams said school boards need to meet with administrators to outline the desired outcomes they want to achieve with the budgets they have.

Sharp, Williams' opponent for the District 5 seat, said she does not support Proposition 103 because it does not specify how the revenue it would generate would be distributed among schools in Colorado.

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Citing a fiscal analysis of the tax initiative released by the Colorado Legislative Council, Sharp said there's a "good chance" none of the revenue from Proposition 103 would ever reach schools in Routt County.

She said Proposition 103 could be used to change the staffing levels of the Department of Higher Education or go exclusively to state's College Opportunity Fund program instead of benefiting schools in Steamboat.

"We could end up seeing zero revenue from Prop 103 here" in Routt County, she said.

Sharp said she thinks the Steamboat Springs School District will not have to cut programs in the face of future budget reductions because it will be able to find alternate sources of funding.

Earlier this week, the candidates also offered contrasting views on what role school funding plays on a student's academic performance.

Williams said increased funding for education improved a student's performance because it allowed students to engage in more academic functions outside of the classroom, while Sharp said there was no proof larger budgets increased student performance.

Unopposed Steamboat SprĀ­ings School Board candidates Wayne Lemley and Robin Crossan also addressed the forum.

CMC candidates

Ken Brenner and John Fielding, candidates for Colorado Mountain College's open Routt County board seat, also were given the opportunity to address Thursday's forum.

Brenner, a former Steamboat Springs City Council member, was absent, but said in statement read by Tim Rowse that as a CMC trustee, he would use his experience in government to help the college "become fully integrated into the community."

"CMC can be a strong partner in our local economy by providing training for our 21st century workforce," Brenner wrote.

John Fielding, a design-build contractor who also is running for the at-large seat on the Steamboat Springs City Council, said he wanted to help improve the relationship between the city and the college. He said he would like to see mandatory citizenship and reading comprehension classes added to the Alpine Campus' curriculum.

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