The voters of Steamboat Springs approved (by a 73 percent vote) Referendum 2B, which asked if they wanted to share revenues from the half-cent sales tax for education with other schools in the county. Yet recent events indicate the Soroco and Hayden school districts have little or no voice in Capital Commission decisions.
South Routt made a request of $48,000 to remove years of coal dust from the gymnasium, and the commission decided it should come from the district's own budget, not from sales tax revenue. Do the commissioners not think South Routt would have already addressed this health risk if it has the money in its budget?
Hayden requested funds to help make payments on the Babson-Carpenter Career and Technical Education Center, a new regional vocational facility. Capital Commission member Kristi Brown was quoted as saying it's not typical of the Education Fund Board to "come in during the 11th hour and try to save the day." The Hayden district simply asked for help with a new building that is an incredible learning resource to all students in the Yampa Valley.
However, the Fund Board had no problem funding a new turf football field at Steamboat Springs High School, and it recently supported a request for a $50,000 boiler to heat the Strawberry Park Elementary School playground. The Fund Board justified the turf field as an educational benefit, claiming that school days were lost while athletes practiced elsewhere because of snow on the grass field.
If the Fund Board can justify a direct educational benefit of installing artificial turf on Steamboat's football field, how is it unable to correlate the real needs of the South Routt and Hayden requests? If the Fund Board and its Capital Commission have no problem supporting a request for a boiler to keep snow off a playground, but have an issue supporting requests to prevent a potential health risk from soot and dust in a gymnasium, or helping young adults who struggle in traditional classrooms, would the voters still support 2B? A suggestion I propose is that a flat percentage of the tax revenue (30 percent) funnel directly to the "other" districts so they can apply the funds to projects they know need attention, while the lion's share can continue to fund the "wants" of window coverings and floor rugs in the Steamboat Springs School District.