School board awarded more than $1.7M

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— The Steamboat Springs School Board accepted more than $1.7 million Monday from the Education Fund Board to pay for 19 items ranging from creating smaller class sizes to upgrading technology.

The board, a nonprofit organization funded by a half-cent sales tax approved by Steamboat voters in 1993, distributes funds from the sales tax to the school district every year. This year's distribution marked a 13.3-percent increase over the $1.5 million given in 2000.

The school board initially considered accepting the funds at its May 15 meeting, but board members tabled action to review the proposals further, Superintendent Cyndy Simms said.

Of the 19 gifts accepted by the school board during Monday's special meeting, all but three were targeted to continue funding programs already in place. The largest gift was $328,000 to fund curriculum and content standards for the district.

Newly approved items included $250,000 to purchase a modular building for the middle school, $185,000 to create smaller class sizes and $30,000 for a full-time maintenance worker at the high school.

Simms said the school board and fund board agreed to add a modular building at the middle school because the current fifth-grade class is larger than normal. Those students will enter middle school in the fall.

Rick Denney, facilities director for the school district, said the high school needs an additional maintenance employee because of the recent expansions to the school.

"The high school is twice as large as it used to be," he said. "We've added a larger transportation department, expanded the school, added modulars and we've not added a larger maintenance staff in years."

The school board declined to accept two gifts on the education board's list, including up to $43,000 to fund a high school career center and $50,000 to fund the Integrated Assessment Tool.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms said the school board did not feel the gifts were the best use of those funds at this time.

Simms said the administrative team consisting of Simms, principals and directors in the district reviewed the numbers and recommended the school board not commit to funding those programs now.

"Those dollars needed to be re-examined for other uses for the half-cent sales tax," Simms said. "When the board rejects an item, then it goes back to the growth commission to be reviewed."

Cathleen Totten, school district technology director, said one of the reasons for not accepting the $50,000 to develop an Integrated Assessment Tool a software program that would track student performance is that the district simply isn't prepared right now to tackle the lengthy project.

Funds accepted Monday are available right away, Totten said.

"We have about 50 computers coming in our work is just beginning," said Totten, a member of the technology commission of the fund board.

With summer on its way, Totten said the technology commission currently has no users of the technology, but those on the commission work a 12-month cycle to train teachers, install software and understand the new technology.

The growth commission and the technology commission sit under the fund board and brainstorm ideas on ways the half-cent sales tax proceeds can be distributed throughout the district.

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