Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Steamboat Springs Steamboat School District Superintendent Cyndy Simms will be meeting with district school board members in early September to decide whether to pursue an increase in property taxes for teacher and support staff salaries.
Simms said she was hopeful after looking at the results of a survey of more than 300 Steamboat School District residents that the district could have luck with the tax if it decides to ask the voters.
She still is analyzing the results and will present them to the board at the meeting.
The telephone survey briefed residents about their feelings on the district and whether they think teacher salary problems are the district's fault or a result of state restrictions, among other issues. It was completed by a Bellevue, Wash., firm called GMA Research Corp. and cost the district $10,101.
The increase in taxes would help the district pay its teachers more money to account for the high cost of living in Steamboat. The tax increase would come to about $19 for each $100,000 of assessed valuation on a residence. For a commercial property, the tax would come to $61 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
The district, in part because of the high cost of living, has been having trouble attracting and retaining enough qualified teachers and may be looking at a serious teacher shortage as people retire and others leave for better-paying districts.
The state uses a finance formula that is adjusted by the Denver/Boulder Consumer Price Index every year to determine how much money each school will receive. It is also adjusted by what is called the "cost of living index," which is multiplied by a base number to determine how much the school district will receive. That factor has changed by mere thousandths of a point in the past eight years even as the cost of living in Steamboat has boomed.
Now, because of the passage of state legislation pushed by an Eagle County citizens group and sponsored by State Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, the district may be better able to take the cost of living in Steamboat into account in terms of salaries.
The cost of living index is currently at about 1.25 and could rise to 1.365 if the tax passed. If the tax passed, the district could take in $739,600 based on current student projections. The money would not come in until 2002-2003.