Steamboat Springs The Education Fund Board approved 27 funding requests and rejected only four during a second reading of proposals Wednesday night.
Even as the group allocated the first round of funding for the South Routt and Hayden school districts, members struggled with the parameters of acceptable programs and community sharing criteria.
Among the four rejected proposals, one was for the Hayden School District and three were for community organizations.
The two largest proposals, funding of $800,000 for small class size and $979,000 for technology in Steamboat Springs School District, passed unanimously.
Educational excellence commission representatives brought forward second readings that exceeded the budget allotted to them at the previous meeting, forcing Fund Board members to either cut programs or overrun the commission's budget and dip into reserves. Although the commission cut their budget, members did not agree with the level of reserves required by the Fund Board.
"First of all, I think it would be good to reiterate that Ed Ex was the one commission that did not agree with the funding decision with the million dollar reserve. I think that probably played into not being interested or willing to cut as much," said Sue MacCarthy, Fund Board representative from educational excellence.
Some of the cuts recommended by the educational excellence commission, including removal of $62,500 for staff training days and cuts to Gifted and Talented and English Language Learner specialists, drew criticism from some Fund Board members. Several viewed those priorities as more important than the community projects proposed.
Both the ELL and GT proposals were cut by a quarter.
"I cannot support some of the community requests, as important as those are, at the expense of some of the teaching staff in the district," said Denise Connelly, Fund Board and Steamboat Springs School Board member.
Of the five community programs, $50,000 for Partners in Routt County and $35,000 for Rocky Mountain Science School passed on 8-1 votes, with Connelly opposing.
Requests for $10,000 for community cultivation, $3,000 for the Emerald City Touring Opera Troupe and $1,750 for Everything Outdoor Steamboat failed.
The Fund Board also rejected $45,000 for a music teacher in Hayden.
After passing all projects from the technology and capital commissions and rejecting four of educational excellence commission's 14 projects, the Fund Board re-allocated an additional $36,000 to the group to bring forward in future projects. The money will be added to money from the rejected proposals to give the commission more than $50,000 to grapple with.
Paul Sachs, who chairs the educational excellence commission, said the group already had held long discussions about each project they supported, and the thought of revisiting the discussion was not something he enjoyed.
"You asked us to cut the budget and we did. We went through everything and talked about every one," he said. "It was the most painful meeting, I can tell you, in 14 years of sitting on this group that I have ever chaired, because people were really concerned about what they want to fund and what they didn't."
The commission may now bring back any proposal they choose to the board, including the rejected proposals they wish the board to reconsider.
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