Steamboat's new School Board president has some political pull.
Two days after board members unanimously named him their leader, Tom Miller-Freutel met with U.S. Rep. John Salazar, and Sen. Ken Salazar in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., to discuss education issues on community, state and national levels.
John Salazar represents Steamboat, part of Colorado's Third Congressional District. He was voting on the House floor Wednesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.
Miller-Freutel said he was in the nation's capital on business and "took advantage of the opportunity to get some School Board issues rolling."
He had met John and Ken Salazar previously, Miller-Freutel said, as an active local Democrat and to talk over telecommunications issues with John Salazar. Miller-Freutel is the executive vice president and a shareholder of Dial411/CBC, based in California.
Wednesday's meeting focused on education, he said.
"We were going over some creative funding mechanisms, as well as some proposed national legislation for really creative education curriculums," Miller-Freutel said via cell phone.
Looking at new ways to fund education is an issue he raised at Monday's meeting of the School Board.
"I do not want to hear the words 'we can't afford it,' because that means we're limiting ourselves," Miller-Freutel said that night at the George P. Sauer Human Services Center. "We can find money for new projects; we just have to be creative."
When reminded of that statement Wednesday, Miller-Freutel added a caveat.
"That's certainly not said in a manner to endorse frivolous spending habits," he said. "It's more in the spirit of challenging the community to find solutions."
Miller-Freutel declined to detail specific funding mechanisms until they had more development and support.
"Certainly the half-cent sales tax speaks for itself in terms of what it's done for the community," he said, referring to a sales tax approved by Steamboat voters, most recently in 1999, which brings about $2 million in revenues a year to the Education Fund Board. "That's just a small example of what we could do."