Steamboat Springs It's the Steamboat Springs School District, not the Education Fund Board, that should be accountable for the effectiveness of programs funded by the city's half-cent sales tax for education, School Board member John DeVincentis said Tuesday.
Because of an error in the editing process, DeVincentis' remarks during Monday's School Board meeting were incorrectly reported in Tuesday's Steamboat Today. On Tuesday, DeVincentis said he's never had an issue with the all-volunteer Education Fund Board, which is responsible for allocating money from the city's half-cent sales tax.
Rather, the former Strawberry Park Elementary School principal said it's incumbent upon the school district and the School Board to objectively measure the success of programs and other items paid for by the Fund Board.
"I want to make sure the money the district is asking for is benefiting our kids more directly than indirectly," DeVincentis said.
The district is in the first stages of using monitoring reports from administrators across the district to provide objective reports of student progress.
"If anyone is responsible for how the money is spent, it should be the elected officials, whether I'm on the (School) Board or not," DeVincentis said.
Fund Board President Tom Ptach said his group also has been asking for reports from the district for a number of years.
"Probably going back three or four years, the Fund Board had been asking for follow-up from the school district for things the Fund Board was paying for," he said. "Was it improving grades, was progress being made, and was it very effective?"
DeVincentis and School Board Vice President Denise Connelly said the district is moving in the right direction and are optimistic the district soon will have such data.
"I think we had talked about that before, and we understand John's concerns, and we are slowly moving the district toward accountability at all levels," Connelly said. "I do think we have put all of this in place. : During the end of last year and this year, we are going to be concentrating on the monitoring reports that will give us the data to show if we are on the mark or not."
The School Board will address the accountability and efficacy of Fund Board programs at a Dec. 15 meeting. That meeting will be after voters decide whether to renew the tax, but before the School Board makes funding requests to the Fund Board for the 2009-10 school year.
Voters also will be asked if they want to share a portion of the tax revenues with the Hayden and South Routt school districts.
"Would I like better accountability? Absolutely. Will it be in place? That's what I'm hoping will happen in December," DeVincentis said.
Ptach said he would like to see data, as well, but considering the large scope of the programs funded by the sales tax, he doesn't expect it to happen this year.
"It takes time to gather data and such, and I would be surprised if the district really has anything of good substance by the budget cycle," he said. "I don't know if that data even exists."
Connelly said the district uses some objective measurements, including statewide assessment scores, to measure progress, but she looks forward to more reports to evaluate progress in different areas.
"That will give us an indication of where we need to put our money to get better results - if the money we've been putting in certain areas has paid off and if we are getting the results we want," she said.
DeVincentis also said he did not have any reservations about the Fund Board or its members, and puts the responsibility for all funding decisions on the School Board.
"I think the Fund Board has done everything that has been asked of them. I don't question them," he said.
To show more accountability, DeVincentis said he would like to hear from the community about how the funds should be used. One major issue supported by the Fund Board is the reduction of class sizes, and DeVincentis said he would like to hear if that still is a priority for parents in the district.
"Our community has said class size is important to them, and maybe it isn't any more, but I would like to know," he said. "If the parents say, 'Class size is good by me,' it's a dead issue."
DeVincentis said he supports the renewal of the half-cent sales tax, which has been in effect since 1993.
"Without the half-cent sales tax, this district will go back to the Stone Age," he said.