Fund board approves gift

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— The Education Fund Board approved Wednesday a $49,000 gift for the Steamboat Springs School District to help lower the district's share of costs related to small class size. The gift was somewhat expected, as the School Board counted on receiving the $49,000 when it approved budget cuts in June. Procedurally, the $49,000 must next be offered to the School Board in the form of a gift, which the School Board likely will vote to accept at its meeting later this month.

In recent years, the Fund Board, which allocates revenue from the city's half-cent education sales tax, has annually gifted $350,000 to the district to help pay half of the salaries of teachers added to lower class sizes in district schools.

The school district, however, says the half-cost of small class size is closer to $630,000, not $350,000. The $49,000 gift will raise the Fund Board's small class size contribution to $399,000 for the 2003-04 school year. The gift, which is for one year only, was requested, in part, to help ease budget cuts the district was forced to make earlier this summer. Reducing class sizes was a stated objective of the Fund Board when Steamboat Springs' residents approved the sales tax in the early 1990s.

Fund Board plans to discuss its reserves, and investment options were tabled until September.

Donna Howell, the district's new superintendent, attended Wednesday's brief Fund Board meeting. Howell, who doesn't officially begin work until Friday, also attended Tuesday's District Accountability Committee meeting.

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