Tuesday, January 20, 2004
The kickoff to the Education Fund Board's annual budgeting cycle began Wednesday when the Steamboat Springs School District's administrative team presented its funding recommendations to each Fund Board commission.
Among those recommendations are many of the usual requests, such as money to retain small class sizes and funding for updated computer software.
But how the administrative team -- made up of the district's superintendent, department directors and principals -- prioritized those recommendations likely will be debated within each commission as they move closer to making formal funding requests to the Fund Board.
One such debate could take place within the ranks of the Educational Excellence Commission; the administrative team made funding for the content standards department's salaries and professional development a higher priority than funding to retain small class sizes.
The administrative team recommended that the Fund Board provide $218,520 for the salaries of the content standards director and teachers on special assignment, who work within the content standards department. It also recommended $110,000 go toward professional development for district staff and $221,480 for small class sizes.
Those three line items total $550,000 -- the amount the Educational Excellence Commission essentially has been guaranteed to receive of the $1.8 million in projected revenue from the city's half-cent sales tax for education.
The Technology Commission also will have $550,000 to spend, and the Capital Commission will receive at least $300,000. The commissions will vie for an additional $200,000 in unallocated revenue.
Beyond the $550,000 expended in its top three priorities to the Educational Excellence Commission, the administrative team recommended an additional $177,520 toward maintaining small class sizes. If the commission were to follow those recommendations and receive approval from the Fund Board, total money allocated to class sizes would be $399,000, about $100,000 short of what the Fund Board provided for the same issue this year.
That $100,000 decrease is accounted for by the administrative team's decision not to recommend the retention of two additional teachers hired for this school year.
Howell said class sizes at Steamboat Springs public schools during the 2004-05 school year will remain consistent with administrative policy even without retaining those two teachers, whose salaries are paid by the Fund Board.
Howell also said she believed the Fund Board would provide $350,000 in total funds toward maintaining small class sizes, as it has in recent years.
The district is anticipating a $250,000 budget deficet for the next school year.
The administrative team makes its funding recommendations in an effort to coordinate the efforts of the Fund Board and the school district. The Fund Board, which administers the city's half-cent sales tax for education, gifts the school district money for items brought forward by each of its commissions and approved by the 13-member Fund Board itself.
Because the School Board must accept the gifts before the items they intend to fund become a reality, the two groups continually attempt to align their goals, as well as those of the community.
Commission members stressed that administrative team's recommendations won't be rubber-stamped into formal funding requests. The commissions will begin to formally request funds from the Fund Board in February. The Fund Board plans to make decisions on those requests by the end of March.
"I'm sure there will be discussion over these priorities," said Educational Excellence Commission Chairman Paul Sachs "I think there will be hefty debate in what should be given to class size."
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