Board revises recommendations

Funding for middle school expansion project updated

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— Provided the chance to revise its initial recommendations to the Education Fund Board, the Steamboat Springs School District's administrative team took advantage of that opportunity Wednesday night.

The administrative team's updated recommendations include funding for a Steamboat Springs Middle School expansion project -- a $1.6 million effort aimed to provide additional classrooms and foster a sense of community for students within each grade level.

The administrative team didn't recommend any capital projects with its original January recommendations.

Like the Fund Board's Capital Commission, which requested funding for the project in February, the administrative team recommended allocating $400,000 of this year's Fund Board budget to the project.

The remaining project balance, if the expansion is approved by the Fund Board, will be paid off over the next two Fund Board cycles and with more than $600,000 in unallocated Capital Commission funds, according to the February Capital Commission request.

Superintendent Cyndy Simms, who presented the administrative team's revised recommendations to the Fund Board, did not provide a reason for the team's change of heart.

Missing from the administrative team's revised recommendations is funding for an elementary school Spanish program.

A primary concern of the administrative team is a Spanish program's impact on middle school and high school foreign language programs and the subsequent financial cost to the district.

The French language programs at both the middle school and the high school would be impacted if all incoming students had experience with Spanish, Simms said.

Therefore, an increase in demand on the Spanish program at the middle school and high school could necessitate additional teachers.

The district may not be able to fund additional staffing, Simms said.

Also, the team didn't want to recommend budgeting the full amount of funds possibly available for rescission, Simms said.

The administrative team supports and acknowledges the concerted efforts of the parents who have worked to fund the pilot program, Simms said.

Furthermore, the administrative team believes in the value of foreign language instruction for elementary students, according to an administrative team handout.

A Spanish pilot program is in effect at both Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools, and the Fund Board's Educational Excellence Commission last week voted to recommend funding up to $30,000 for the program.

The funding request was formally submitted to the Fund Board Wednesday night.

Most of the administrative team's other recommendations were identical or very similar to its original recommendations, which were presented in January.

However, the team did reduce its pay-for-performance recommendation from $400,000 to $200,000, with an additional $100,000 requested from rescissions.

The administrative team's recommendations to the Fund Board are intended as a means for the Fund Board and its commissions to understand programs and projects desired by the school district. The Fund Board only approves recommendations made by its three commissions.

According to its bylaws, the Fund Board must allocate a budget by the end of March.

The Fund Board will discuss and vote on commission recommendations at its meeting next Wednesday.

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