District seeking four aides

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Spurred by a request from the Steamboat Springs School District, a commission of the Education Fund Board will seek $68,000 in sales tax revenue for up to four full-time classroom aides.

At its meeting last week, the Educational Excellence Commission approved moving forward with a funding request intended to help lessen the effect of larger-than-anticipated class sizes and the district's growing English language learner population.

The Educational Excellence Commission, one of three Fund Board commissions responsible for identifying district needs and seeking money to address those needs, will request the funding at the Fund Board's October meeting. However, because of Fund Board procedures, the request likely won't be voted on until it's brought to the group a second time.

The timing won't affect the district's ability to advertise and hire aides to fill the four positions, Superintendent Donna Howell said Tuesday.

"We'll get people on board as soon as we can," Howell said. The district's tight budget doesn't allow it to pay the future aides, she said.

"We don't have the money in the budget for it, so we're depending on the Education Fund Board," Howell said. Even $68,000 is unlikely to cover all the expenses associated with salaries and benefits for full-time aides. District officials are hoping increased student enrollment will generate additional revenue to cover any remaining costs, Howell said.

District officials have been eyeing classroom aides since the academic year began three weeks ago.

One aide will be hired to work with two of Soda Creek Elementary School's three kindergarten classes, Howell said. The school likely will use an existing aide to help with the third kindergarten class. Each of the classes has 21 students.

A second aide will be hired to work full-time in a Strawberry Park Elementary School third-grade class with 25 students. A third aide is being sought to work full-time in the school's new multi-age Montessori class, which has 23 students.

The district also is seeking an aide to work with English language learners at Steamboat Springs High School. Howell said the district is trying to determine whether that aide will work half-time or full-time.

The Fund Board, which was created in 1993 after city residents approved a half-cent sales tax devoted to education, has approved similar requests in past years in an effort to reduce class sizes.

"Part of our mandate and mission has always been small class sizes," Educational Excellence Commission member Paul Sachs said. "Given the time of year and the needs, this (request) will help mitigate some of the larger classes that were unanticipated."

Howell said she thinks the Fund Board will be receptive to the funding request and is expecting the request to move forward for approval, at which point the money for the aides will be presented to the School Board as a gift.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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