Fund Board readies for changes

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The Education Fund Board moved one step closer Wednesday to cutting in half the number of Steamboat Springs School Board members who preside over the city's sales tax for education.

The Fund Board also appears poised to strip the School Board of its duty to appoint community members to the Fund Board and its three commissions.

The proposed changes are part of a concerted Fund Board effort to distance itself from the Steamboat Springs School District after a state lawmaker attempted last year to outlaw the district's ability to accept and spend revenue from the half-cent sales tax. The lawmaker's efforts eventually were defeated, but the threat to the future of the sales tax put Fund Board members and district officials on notice.

The Fund Board is a nonprofit group composed mostly of community members that oversee the half-cent sales tax for education. Four School Board members also sit on the Fund Board. Revenue from the tax, which generates about $2 million annually, is gifted to the school district in the form of specific expenditures.

Colorado's public school districts aren't allowed to levy sales taxes to generate revenue, and the lawmaker, Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, argued that the city sales tax violated the equity sought through the state's Public School Finance Act and a state constitutional mandate to provide a thorough and uniform education for all students.

At their Wednesday meeting, Fund Board members reviewed a draft of changes to the group's bylaws that would reduce the number of School Board members who sit on the Fund Board from four to two. The draft changes also give the Fund Board the authority to appoint new members and fill existing member vacancies, a power currently held by the School Board.

A majority of the Fund Board's 13 members, including its School Board members, seem to support the changes.

"I think everyone understands the need to do it," Fund Board President Jim Gill said. "It's a good thing."

The Fund Board will revisit the proposed changes at its next meeting, when it could move to adopt the revisions to its bylaws.

Also at Wednesday's meeting:

n The Fund Board discussed its upcoming budget cycle. The group expects to have $2.1 million in sales tax revenue to spend on various educational programs, capital projects and salary expenses for the school district.

n The Fund Board is hosting a community open house meeting Wednesday to update the community about recent Fund Board expenditures, provide an overview for the group's objectives, discuss how its work integrates with the mission of the school district and answer any questions community members may have about the Steamboat Springs Education Fund.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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