Partial grant gifted

North Routt charter school may get $12,000

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The North Routt Com-munity Charter School could begin this school year with $12,000 toward the $45,000 it needs to be an Expeditionary Learning school.

First, the Steamboat Springs School Board would have to accept the $12,000 gift made by the Education Fund Board on Wednesday night.

If the School Board does not accept the gift, six of the eight Fund Board members present at Wednesday's meeting said they would support granting the gift directly to the charter school's board at the September meeting.

Colleen Poole, principal and director of the charter school, said she was disappointed that the full request was not gifted but that the $12,000 would be a start.

"At least there has been some precedence set, and I think that's very good," Poole said after the Fund Board's decision.

She said the $12,000, if granted by the School Board, would be used as a down payment for the Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound teaching program. The remaining costs would be made up with grants and fund-raisers.

"We will do it," Poole said. "We are committed to being an Expeditionary Learning school."

The Expeditionary Learning model teaches students through expeditions. The $45,000 price tag provides the school with 26 days of on-site training, as well as additional training. In turn, that helps develop curriculum, teachers and students, Poole said.

Fund Board members agreed that the $45,000 was too much considering the school has 38 students enrolled. That per-student gift would be much higher than what the Fund Board gifts for curriculum development, professional development and technology training across the district.

During the meeting, Fund Board members debated whether and how they should grant any funds to any charter schools.

Most members ag--reed that because the students at charter schools are part of the Steamboat Springs School District, the Fund Board should be able to provide gifts to the school. The Fund Board is a nonprofit group separate from the Steamboat Springs School Board that allocates about $2 million annually from the Steamboat Springs half-cent sales tax for education.

Fund Board member Jerry Kozatch, who ultimately did not support the gift, expressed various concerns about gifting funds to the charter school, because he said it should be paying for itself.

Supporters of the North Routt Community Charter School listened in on the Fund Board's third consecutive meeting about the issue. When there was a suggestion that the request be put off until the September meeting, several supporters groaned.

Fund Board member Sue MacCarthy did not want to wait to get feedback from the Fund Board.

"These poor people are sitting here, and I feel like we're putting this off on a technicality," she said, referring to discussions about how the gift should be given.

In the end, most Fund Board members agreed to take a vote on the gift.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, officers were elected: Robin Crossan will be president, Jerry Kozatch will be vice president, Norm Weaver will be secretary, and Tom Ptach will be treasurer. The Fund Board also agreed to gift $25,000 for a new freezer, but members said it was key to review what they should be providing compared with what the school district is responsible for providing.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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