Members of the Steamboat Springs School Board hope a little discussion ahead of time will prevent a controversy like the one that transpired last spring.
The School Board reviewed the district's administrative team priorities for the Education Fund Board at Monday night's meeting. The review was conducted, in part, to determine whether the majority of the School Board would approve Fund Board gifts for each of those priorities. The Fund Board's commissions, not the district administrative team, make formal funding requests. The administrative team priorities are an attempt to coordinate the efforts of the Fund Board and the school district.
Those priorities include $218,520 for the content standards department, $399,000 for small class sizes, $323,650 for technology department staffing, $96,350 for computers and related hardware and $261,000 on a loan payment for the recently completed middle school expansion.
While none of the priorities was rejected by a majority of the School Board, individual members did voice his or her opinions on the placement of priorities and the absence of others.
"I'm a little bit surprised that small class size isn't a little bit higher (of a priority)," Michael Loomis said. Of the $399,000 for small class sizes recommended by the administrative team, $221,480 is its No. 3 priority for the Educational Excellence Commission and the remaining $177,520 is its No. 5 priority. The total recommendation represents $98,000, or two teachers, less than what the district received from the Fund Board last year for small class sizes. The district says it can meet its class size policies without the additional two teachers.
Board members Pat Gleason and Jeff Troeger expressed a desire for more technology training for district staff, and Loomis said he'd like to see additional emphasis placed on professional development for teachers.
The decision to review the administrative team's priorities comes one year after the School Board decided to take a hands-off approach to the funding desires of the administrative team, comprised of the superintendent, school principals and department directors. That approach resulted in a class size controversy last spring when the School Board rejected a Fund Board gift for three additional elementary school teachers even though the administrative team recommended funding for at least three teachers.
The board eventually accepted a two-teacher gift from the Fund Board.
"This was really to make sure the Fund Board would be in a position to know the School Board would accept a gift," School Board member Tami Havener said of Monday's discussion.
The Fund Board, which administers the city's half-cent sales tax for education, begins its budgeting cycle this month. By the end of March, the 13-member Fund Board is scheduled to be decided on what it will fund with an estimated $1.9 million in revenue. The Fund Board must present its funding proposals to the School Board in the form of a gift. The School Board must vote to accept a gift before the sales tax revenue can be allocated for a particular use.
While the district and the Fund Board are separate entities, the two groups try to coordinate their efforts so that the Fund Board provides money for programs beneficial to and desired by the district. The Fund Board also considers what voters expected to be paid for by the sales tax when they approved it on three separate occasions since 1993.
Havener said Monday's priority discussion will be the last one and that the board won't formalize its priorities for Fund Board gifts. The four School Board members who also sit on the Fund Board will have the opportunity to express their opinions on specific funding proposals as the budgeting cycle progresses, she said.
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