More requests on tap for Fund Board from Routt County districts

Group to consider using reserves to fund counselor, software

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If you go

What: Education Fund Board meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street

Other: The Education Fund Board allocates revenues from the city of Steamboat Springs’ half-cent sales tax for education. The meeting is open to the public.

— The Education Fund Board will consider two requests tonight that, if approved, would require it to dip into reserves.

Fund Board members will consider a second reading of a $50,000 Educational Excellence Commission request that would restore a counselor at one of the Steamboat Springs School District’s elementary schools. Board members also will consider a first reading of a more than $99,000 Technology/Capital Commission request for the Steamboat Springs School District to buy new Infinite Visions financial software.

The Hayden School District had been included in the request but pulled out Tuesday night during a special meeting of the Technology Capital/Commission, commission chairman Roger Good said.

If the Fund Board decides to bring back the financial software request for a second reading, it would take place at the next meeting in July. The amount of the request could decrease between the first and second readings, according to the Fund Board’s bylaws.

The Fund Board approved second readings in April, granting all requests — totaling $2.2 million — from both of its commissions. The Fund Board disburses the city of Steamboat Springs’ half-cent sales tax for education.

Fund Board President Mark Andersen said depending on how much revenue is generated from sales taxes, the June 30 year-end reserve is estimated at between $700,000 and $900,000. Preliminary sales tax figures for April released Tuesday by the city dropped 5.6 percent from a year ago.

At last week’s Steamboat Springs School Board meeting, board members were supportive of a request for the financial software being submitted to the Education Fund Board.

When Finance Director Dale Mellor asked School Board members whether they would support paying for a portion of the project from the district’s capital reserve fund, School Board members said they first wanted to see what the Fund Board might provide. The School Board said it again would discuss the financial software when it meets June 21.

The district’s capital reserve fund can be used only for capital projects such as buying or upgrading equipment or facilities. It cannot be used for operational costs, such as paying teacher salaries.

Mellor said at last week’s School Board meeting that the Infinite Visions software “blew everyone’s socks off” after a recent presentation at South Routt School District offices. South Routt requested funding for the software and was approved as part of the Fund Board’s original 2010-11 requests.

In Steamboat, Infinite Visions would replace Alio, the existing software the district started using in January 2008. That purchase cost $79,000. Alio has been a headache since the district started using it, Mellor said Tuesday. He said it’s not user-friendly, takes time to access and gives inaccurate financial reports.

Given the district’s current finances, Mellor said the new software isn’t essential but would alleviate headaches and save the district time and money. He estimated annual cost savings for the district by using Infinite Visions at about $21,000 in staff time alone.

Good said the Technology/Capital Commission approved taking the software request to the Fund Board with the anticipation that the request will change between first and second readings, if Fund Board members agree to hear it on second reading.

Fund Board members also will consider a $80,000 second reading to pay for its grant writer, who works on behalf of all three Routt County school districts.

The cost previously was approved in the 2010-11 budget of $2.31 million, which also included $30,000 to pay for the Fund Board’s administrative costs.

Neither the $80,000 grant writer request nor the $30,000 in administrative costs would come from Fund Board reserves.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@steamboatpilot.com

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