South Routt School District to launch endowment fund

Officials say funding will help offset future state budget cuts


— Calling state funding for education unreliable and insufficient, a group of South Routt School District officials and community members on Wednesday started to put the finishing touches on a plan to next month launch a private endowment fund that carries with it an ambitious fundraising goal.

Superintendent Scott Mader said the fund, which aims to raise $25 million in five years through private donations, is a needed source of revenue for the school district that had its budget cut by an average of $250,000 in each of the past three years, according to district Finance Director Dina Murray.

Mader said the $25 million goal was established because if it is achieved, the endowment could give the school district $1 million per year, a sum the superintendent said would help support a “first-class education” in South Routt.

“Proposition 103 went down in flames, and we are not going to get enough money from the state for our schools to be funded properly,” Mader said at the beginning of the meeting at Bud Werner Memorial Library to discuss the formation of the private fund. “I think the state is an unreliable source of income for us. This (fund) will become part of our support.”

He said the fund could, as early as next school year, be used to support students, teachers, school programs and facilities. Specifically, he said some funds could be used to allow the district to offer its teachers 10-month contracts instead of the current nine.

“I don’t think this (fundraising) goal will be easy, but we have to keep after it,” he said.

The fund was first proposed last year by Soroco High School Principal Dennis Alt, who on Wednesday said the private endowment fund could reduce the district’s reliance on state funding and tax increases for revenue.

A nine-member task force consisting of South Routt district officials, parents and teachers has been meeting monthly to make that idea a reality in the form of the South Routt Education Endowment, or SREE.

At a meeting Wednesday, Alt, Mader, South Routt School Board President Tim Corrigan, parent Russ Garrity and South Routt Elementary School teacher Peggy Barnes met with Yampa Valley Community Foundation Executive Director Mark Andersen to discuss how the school district could start the endowment fund with the nonprofit’s support next month.

Mader said the task force has collected $8,000 of the $12,500 in donations they need to start the fund and will need to raise $1 million before any funds can be released to the school district. He also talked with Andersen about how the funds would be managed and distributed by an advisory board in the future.

But the most immediate need is fundraising, Mader said.

“Once we get this going, then we really need to push to get larger donations,” he said, adding that members of the task force already are reaching out to businesses, community members and South Routt alumni for contributions.

Garrity, who has two children attending Soroco High School, said the endowment fund likely will distribute the private donations much like the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board each year distributes revenue from a half-cent sales tax.

“I really think this is an interesting idea to attempt to privatize some of the funding for our school district,” Garrity said.

The task force now is working to develop a website for the fund through the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, and it will meet again next month to finalize the endowment’s launch.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email


Sandra Sharp 5 years, 5 months ago

This is exactly what all school districts should be considering. This is one of the most successful ways school districts to have broadened their revenue base. I encourage the Steamboat School District to examine the possibility of an endowment fund.
In the past ten years our school district has gone from being funded 40% by the state, to 60%. Our school Districts have received the message from the State of Colorado that this cannot continue. The State of Colorado has responsibilities to fund other social services. If the state continues to fund schools at the current percentage, within ten years they will basically only have enough money to fund education. It is the School Boards responsibility to look out for the best interests of students, teachers, administrators and the community at large. Thus, the SSSB should have a discussion of an endowment fund at its next meeting.


the_Lizard 5 years, 5 months ago

I like this idea too Cindy. People can choose to give to local school districts...if they so desire, not through force, but through choice. Yep, I like it.


Scott Wedel 5 years, 5 months ago

Well, hopefully they have some large donations lined up or have some people wishing to leave their estates to it.

It sounds all wonderful and would be great if it works out, but the reason not to do it is in the article. It will cost $12,500 in donations to start the fund. So if the fund is not a success then that money was not well used.

Also, endowments make more sense when the donations are so big that it makes more sense to spend it over time. The trouble with endowments is that it is a harder sell to convince people to make frequent (ie annual) contributions to a fund that will not spend the money now. Which is why major universities with large endowments still have annual fundraising to be spent that year.


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