Board split on two fronts

3-2 vote approves administrator salaries, charter school funds

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The Steamboat Springs School Board split votes on two issues Monday night.

With a pair of 3-2 votes, the board narrowly approved administrator salaries for 2006-07 and a $5,000 gift from the Education Fund Board for North Routt Community Charter School.

Board members Denise Connelly and John DeVincentis voted against approving next year's salaries for the district's 15 administrators. Connelly said her vote was based on inadequate time to review the proposed salaries and on a lack of information about administrator salaries in school districts comparable to Steamboat Springs.

DeVincentis said he also would have liked more time to review the salaries, and he proposed a motion to table the issue until the School Board's next meeting in August. That motion failed, 2-3. Connelly cast the other vote in support of tabling the issue.

DeVincentis said the 4.8 percent salary increases granted to most administrators is "a slap in the face" to teachers and school staff, singling out a raise of more than $6,000 for Superintendent Donna Howell.

"I have a concern about that amount," DeVincentis said.

On May 31, teachers and school staff approved their contracts for next year with a resounding vote of 186-4. Those contracts provide an average salary increase of 4.7 percent for teachers and 4.8 percent for school staff, identical to the highest increase given to administrators Monday night.

Board President Tom Miller-Freutel, along with board members Pat Gleason and Jeff Troeger, voted against tabling the issue and in favor of approving the salaries.

The School Board also heard debate about the propriety of using Fund Board money, generated from a local half-cent sales tax, for the charter school in North Routt.

"One of the fundamentals of the charter school is to be independent and financially self-sustaining," said Jerry Kozatch, vice president of the Fund Board. "Every dollar that is gifted to the charter school is a dollar that is not gifted to the city's public schools."

Fund Board President Robin Crossan said Kozatch's views do not represent those of the entire Fund Board.

The School Board unanimously approved a $6,600 gift to provide computers for the charter school, before voting 3-2 on the $5,000 gift for Accelerated Reader software. Gleason said he voted for the computers because the school district will retain ownership of the computers, but he voted against the software because of a large expense for the 40 students projected to attend the charter school next year.

"I believe the cost is out of line in terms of what we spend per student in the school district, so I can't support this gift," said Gleason, who is also a member of the Fund Board.

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