Monday, December 13, 2004
Members of the Steamboat Springs School Board are hopeful that revenue from the city's half-cent sales tax for education will help pay for much-needed district facility improvements.
A recent report on the condition of Steamboat Springs School District facilities recommends the district spend nearly $1 million in short-term maintenance needs. The report was submitted to the School Board last week by private contractor Christiansen, Reece & Partners, a firm that was hired by the district to perform a comprehensive facilities analysis and long-range plan.
With budget cuts again looming on the horizon for the school system, School Board members think the Steamboat Springs Education Fund may provide the best means for funding some of the maintenance needs, they said Monday.
"It looks like our budget will be another year of making cuts," School Board member Michael Loomis said. The Education Fund Board's budget, however, is expected to increase over past years because of higher-than-anticipated city sales tax returns. The Education Fund Board is a 13-member nonprofit group that allocates money generated from the half-cent education sales tax to the school district. The tax generates about $2 million annually.
More than half of the $1 million in short-term maintenance needs identified by the facilities report are for the district's central offices within the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street. The aging building, among other things, needs $220,000 for roof replacement. Board member Paula Stephenson said the School Board needs to determine the long-term status of the Human Services Center before it spends too much on maintenance needs there. She identified Soda Creek Elementary School as the No. 1 priority for facilities improvement.
District officials have approached members of the Fund Board's Capital Commission about funding another district capital need -- bus replacement. The district would like the Fund Board to provide the money needed to purchase three new school buses this year, director of finance and operations Dale Mellor said. Such a purchase would bring the district up to speed on its bus replacement schedule, from which it fell behind several years ago. The district would continue to purchase one bus a year to maintain that replacement schedule.
Monday's discussion was the first of what is expected to be several School Board conversations regarding what funding recommendations it will make to the Fund Board. The School Board typically provides the Fund Board a list of programs, projects and salaries it would like the Fund Board to finance. However, all formal funding requests ultimately must come from the Fund Board's three commissions -- capital, educational excellence and technology. The School Board has the final say about whether to accept Fund Board monies for specific items.
The School Board also discussed shifting more of the cost of small class sizes to the Fund Board and taking on more of the costs associated with the content standards department.
Also at Monday's meeting:
n Steamboat Springs Middle School teachers Matt Tredway and Ben Barbier discussed the benefits of the new mathematics textbooks being used at their school.
n The School Board established its mill levy at 22.085 mills for fiscal year 2004. The mill levy will generate nearly $12 million for the district's general revenue fund. A bond redemption fund mill levy of 4.67 mills will generate about $2.5 million.
n The School Board discussed a recent technology infrastructure analysis and its relation to the district's long-range strategic plan with technology director Cathleen Nardi.
n The School Board tabled until January an agenda item calling for review of several board policies.
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