Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board divided on administrator salaries

Members also vote to consolidate grant committees

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— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board is divided on whether revenue distributed from the city’s half-cent sales tax for education should fund the salaries of any school district administrators.

An informal poll conducted at the Fund Board’s Wednesday night meeting showed the seven members in attendance were split 4-3 in favor of not considering grant requests for those salaries.

“There are so many things associated with the students that we can fund that I think it is clean to say, ‘Let’s not go there,’” board member Paige Boucher said.

Board member Ann Henderson said the Fund Board should consider all funding requests, including ones for administrator salaries.

“I just don’t feel there are necessities and extras,” she said. “Everything should be on the table. If there is an administration position that is important at the time, let’s hear about it. Times change, priorities change.”

The board often has funded salaries for positions that include technology directors and curriculum directors within Routt County school districts but in recent years has not approved such funding. It instead has directed its tax revenue to be spent on classroom programs and technology upgrades.

Fund Board President Kristi Brown said the discussion and the poll was intended to give school districts some direction as they prepare to decide which grant applications to submit to the Fund Board for the 2012-13 school year.

“The school districts can expect the board to be divided when they consider (administrator salary) requests in the future,” Brown said. “There could be some support, and there could be some pushback.”

Brown said she preferred that the school districts continue to fund administrator salaries.

The Fund Board last fiscal year distributed $2.3 million in half-cent sales tax revenue to Routt County’s three school districts and is anticipating a 2 percent decline in revenue for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The Steamboat Springs School District last year asked the Fund Board to pay for the salary of a curriculum director, but the request was tabled after it was met with opposition from parents and teachers.

Routt County’s three superintendents were present at Wednesday’s meeting and said afterward that they currently have no plans to ask the board to fund administrator salaries next school year.

“We do try to shy away from having them fund those salaries,” South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader said. “It is always questionable, and the requests are always questioned by the board. They would rather go away from that.”

Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks and Hayden Superintendent Mike Luppes also said they will focus their requests on classroom programs.

“Salaries are probably not an area that we would ask for,” Luppes said. “We received the message from the Fund Board, and (salary funding) is an area we prefer not to go.”

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Fund Board voted to combine the two commissions that weigh grant requests. Instead of having two, 13-member commissions, the board next year will operate with one 11-member commission that will include nine representatives from Steamboat and one representative each from Hayden and South Routt.

— To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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