School District regroups commissions

Officials hope new groups bring better focus, more community input

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The Steamboat Springs School District wants to spend taxpayer money more efficiently.

The growth commission, which portions out 40 percent of the district's half-cent sales tax revenue, will be split into two new commissions.

Education Fund Board members voted to change the bylaws in June that would create a more efficient entity by splitting the growth commission into the capital and educational excellence commissions.

Because the former growth commission presented the board with sporadic information "whenever things popped up," the fund board members decided change to the growth commission was necessary.

"We want the commission to be more proactive, modeling after the tech commission, which is perfect," fund board President Paul Fisher said

The technology commission presented a five-year budget to the board.

"The tech didn't change a lick," Fisher said.

The title of the technology commission is self-evident but the growth commission dealt with issues such as curriculum, content standards and capital finance needs.

"The question we had to ask ourselves was, 'how do we manage capital issues and ongoing operating issues?'" Fisher said.

The philosophy of the commissions would not change but splitting the commissions allows people of different constituencies to focus on one specific area, the fund board concluded.

In the past, the growth commission dealt with a versus the hodgepodge of issues.

The Education Fund Board consists of the technology, capital and educational excellence commissions with representation of four school board members, three community members and two members of each commission.

"This doesn't change at all the promises made to the voters. It does not change the spending priorities," Fisher said. "We added the community members to help us be objective about the budgetary mechanism."

Superintendent Cyndy Simms said adding a new commission and allowing for community representation helps to broaden the community partnership, which is critical.

"There's more focus. It's more specific. That's really how it will make it more efficient," Simms said.

The capital commission will focus on lump sum monetary needs, such as renovating buildings and land acquisition, versus the educational excellence commission that will deal with the daily operating expenses, such as keeping small class sizes and content standards.

Fisher said the intent was to have the new commissions in place by the 2001-2002 school year, but members for the new commissions are needed.

At least one position is open for each commission and the board. Applications are due by Aug. 10.

Fisher said because the school board does not meet again until Aug. 13 for a study session, the commissions and new bylaws cannot be implemented probably until Sept. 1.

Board and commission members serve a two-year term.

Fisher said members of the technology or growth commission have the opportunity to apply for a change in commission membership or they can remain in their current position.

At the beginning of June, the Education Fund Board gave the school district about $1.7 million in gifts toward curriculum, content standards, small class sizes, technology and a middle school modular, among others.

The Steamboat Springs School Board appoints members to the Education Fund Board.

Eight years ago, the majority of voters agreed that a half-cent sales tax should help fund school needs.

However, with so much money running into the school district, the voters also agreed that a series of commissions needed to oversee the money.

That is when the Education Fund Board and the technology and growth commissions were formed.

The Fund Board, which meets once a month, functioned on a 40-40-20 policy.

"The growth commission got 40 percent, the tech commission got 40 percent and the other 20 percent was put into reserve," Fisher said of the half-cent sales tax.

With the change in bylaws, Fisher said each commission would receive a budget, not the traditional percentage chunk.

"We're starting to get the history of what works," Fisher said. The community members provide "an independent view of how to spend money if we're not going to use the 40-40-20. We're very cognizant of listening to

the community."

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