Education Fund Board request up for 2nd reading

Approval could provide $50K for Steamboat counselor

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— The Education Fund Board will hear a second reading for a Steamboat Springs School District counselor.

The Educational Excellence Commission is scheduled to present the request June 2 to the Fund Board. It would provide $50,000 to help restore an elementary school counseling position for the 2010-11 school year.

The position was eliminated in the district’s budget, leaving Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools with one counselor to share for more than 800 students. The district has projected having to cut about $2 million from next year’s budget.

Fund Board President Mark Andersen reminded board members at their meeting Wednesday that should the counseling position be approved on second reading, the $50,000 will come from reserves.

Paul Strong, the Fund Board’s accountant, said if its revenue forecast from city sales taxes remains flat, the reserve is projected to be about $850,000 at the end of the fiscal year, which is June 30, 2011.

“I would love to maintain all of the programs at their current funding levels,” Fund Board member Kristi Brown said. “I’m just concerned that this will send a message that we’re seeing first readings for Spanish and” Gifted and Talented.

The district’s English Lang­uage Learners and Gifted and Talented staff also were reduced in the 2010-11 budget.

Fund Board member Roger Good wanted to know whether funding the counseling position would place it high up on the list for cuts next year.

Steamboat Su­­perintendent Sha­lee Cunning­ham, who attended the meeting, said the position again would be considered. The district has said it estimates having to cut an additional $1 million in the 2011-12 budget.

Steamboat School Board member Denise Connelly, who is a nonvoting member of the Fund Board, said if the counseling position was funded for another year, it would give the district time to redistribute those duties if further cuts were required in 2011-12.

Fund Board member Michael Loomis said if the second reading were approved for the counseling position, it would provide services for students for another year, even if it could get cut again a year later.

“Which in my mind is better than that money sitting in the bank,” Fund Board member Dean Massey said.

Cunningham said the funding would cover most of the cost of the position, depending on the experience of the person who took the job.

She said the district has received a $10,000 grant to dedicate toward a counseling position for Hispanic students. Cunningham also said the district is pursuing other grant opportunities to fund the elementary counseling position.

If the gift were approved, but the district received enough grant funding to pay for the position, Cunningham said it would give the money back to the Fund Board.

The Fund Board also discussed upcoming vacancies Wednesday. Five of the Educational Excellence Com­mission’s seven seats will be vacant next year, but the commission already has started talking to a few people who might fill them. There will be at least one and possibly as many as three vacancies on the seven-seat Technology/Capital Commission.

On the Fund Board, longtime members Michael Loomis and Tom Ptach will step down after this year. With a position that remained vacant this year, the Fund Board will look to fill three vacancies on its 11-member board. More efforts to fill Fund Board and commission vacancies will take place this summer.

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

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