Wednesday, March 23, 2005
The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board will dip slightly into its reserves and spend as much as $2.45 million on educational programs this year.
The budgeting decision was made Wednesday after Fund Board members reviewed the total amount of money requested by its three commissions and decided it would spend all of its $2.3 million in anticipated annual sales tax revenue plus an additional $150,000 out of its $2.8 million reserve.
The Fund Board's three commissions -- Capital, Technology and Educational Excellence -- have requested $2.4 million for a variety of education-related programs and projects for the Steamboat Springs School District. That figure doesn't include an additional $80,000 for a grants writer for all three Routt County school districts, $20,000 for Fund Board administrative expenses and a $100,000 annual reserve for unforeseen expenditures during the year.
A majority of Fund Board members agreed they would prefer to not dip heavily into reserves to provide enough money to fund every commission request, particularly with the possibility of major expenditures in coming years. The $2.45 million budget allocation means that not all of the requests brought forward by the commissions can be approved.
The Fund Board, a nonprofit group responsible for allocating revenue from a half-cent city sales tax for education, has maintained a philosophy during the years of keeping one year's worth of expenditures in reserve.
Also on Wednesday, Fund Board members prioritized a list of all the requests brought forward by its three commissions. The prioritization process was used to determine how much money each commission would have to spend this year, not to give specific approval to individual funding requests.
Among the top priorities, as voted by Fund Board members: the last payment on a loan for the completed middle school expansion project, small class sizes, technology staff, content standards staff, a data warehouse system and an English as a Second Language teacher/program coordinator. Included among the lowest priorities were defibrillators for each district building, climbing walls for both elementary schools and computer hardware replacement.
In other Fund Board news:
Superintendent Donna Howell gave Fund Board members an update about the district's long-range strategic plan, which was made based on the recommendations of several Fund Board-funded audits, such as a curriculum-management audit, a technology-infrastructure analysis and a facilities audit.
Steamboat Pilot & Tod-ay editor Scott Stanford expressed the newspaper's belief, based on a legal opinion, that the Fund Board can't meet in private to discuss sharing half-cent sales tax revenue with neighboring Routt County school districts. Some Fund Board members have suggested a closed-door meeting to discuss the board's stance on sharing revenue with other districts, but no formal date or time has been set for such a discussion.
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