Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School Board members are questioning plans to hire staff for gifted and talented programs that have yet to be developed.
District personnel say the hires are necessary to meet state guidelines and argue that the new staff could develop the programs they would implement.
At a meeting Mon-day, board members John DeVincentis and Jeff Troeger questioned a proposed $100,000 gift from the Education Fund Board that would pay for two full-time gifted and talented staff.
"It concerns me that we're going to spend $100,000 and nothing is in place," DeVincentis said, stating that the proposal seeks to hire staff without outlining programs the staff would develop. "I feel like we're putting the cart before the horse."
In a presentation to the board, faculty members of the Steamboat Springs Gifted Education Team said that hiring staff, not developing programs, is the necessary first step to meet upcoming requirements mandated by the Colorado Department of Education.
Team member Lisa Ruff, a seventh-grade teacher, said the requirements state that all Colorado school districts must have a process to identify gifted and talented students in place by June. Educational programming must be prepared for those students by August 2007.
"I would like to see the gifted and talented teachers in place so that those people could use their expertise to direct the programming," Ruff said. "I believe the people whom (district officials) hire will have the expertise to know which programs and interventions are appropriate for the district and will put them in place."
Her view was shared Monday by school principals Mark MacHale and Judy Harris.
"We have paid, trained advocates in our schools for special education students and English Language Learners," said MacHale, principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School. "We should have them for gifted and talented students also."
Harris, principal of Soda Creek Elementary School, said the new staff should identify gifted and talented students, a process that would be crucial for creating programs to enhance learning for those students.
"It's hard to develop programming if you don't know how many kids will be served," board President Tom Miller-Freutel said.
Superintendent Donna Howell expressed support Tuesday for hiring the new staff before developing the programs.
"I certainly agree with and support the standpoint of the building-level administrators," Howell said, referring to principals MacHale and Harris. "When you allow the folks that you hire to be a part of that (program) development, there is a sense of ownership."
Howell is a former director of programs for gifted and talented students, in suburban Chicago during the early 1980s.
DeVincentis expressed concerns that if gifted students are identified and educational programs are created, more work will fall on classroom teachers.
"To me, this is the same old plan," he said.
The $100,000 gift is part of the 2006-07 budget approved by the Fund Board on March 1. The board likely will give final approval to the gift at its meeting April 5.