School board members take closer look at budget

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— Steamboat Springs School Board members were confronted with a new preliminary district budget for the 2001-2002 school year at Monday night's study session.

Dale Mellor, finance director for the school district, presented board members with new figures that added Medicaid, pay for performance and an increase of $1.5 million to the total revenues in the preliminary budget.

"The reason for that (increase) is the local revenue from the half-cent sales tax," Mellor said about the May 7 preliminary budget.

Mellor also designed a five-year budget projection that included eight possible scenarios that the board could adopt at the June 25 school board meeting.

"We are going to see this budget in two weeks," school board president Dan Birch said. "We have to adopt a budget, not (specifically) an example."

Mike Smith, Steamboat Springs Education Association president, commented on salary issues that the teachers face in direct correlation with the proposed budget.

"In the next (few) years, teacher shortages will be even greater," Smith said of a study the education association conducted more than a month ago. "We're losing teachers that are going somewhere else for better pay."

While Smith said that the Steamboat Springs School District is not competitive enough compared to those on the Front Range, Vice President Paul Fisher said the board is trying to build a philosophical explanation of the salary schedule before dealing with precise numbers and rhetoric.

"Philosophically, I think we're on the same page, but we're speaking a different language," Fisher said.

"We're trying to make sure the buying power is the same for every staff member."

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