South Routt School Board endorses tax increase

Proposition 103 could net district $263K a year

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Election 2011

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— The South Routt School Board on Thursday night became the second school district in Routt County to unanimously endorse a November ballot measure that would generate an estimated $2.9 million for public schools in Colorado by raising the state’s sales and income taxes for five years.

Board members John McCollum and Joel Harris were absent for the vote.

South Routt Finance Director Dina Murray told the board that the district’s budget has been cut by an average of $250,000 each of the past three years and revenue generated from the tax increase would mitigate future cuts from the state.

“It’s designed to stop the bleeding until the state finds a long-term solution for education funding,” Murray said.

Proposition 103 would generate an estimated $532 million for Colorado public schools in its first year of passage by raising the state income tax rate from 4.63 to 5 percent and the sales tax from 2.9 to 3 percent.

A study of the tax proposal by the nonpartisan Colorado Center on Law and Policy estimates that the South Routt School District would receive $263,000 annually if the tax initiative is passed by voters in November.

Earlier this week, board President Tim Corrigan said the school district could use additional revenue to provide step increases for district staff or to extend teaching contracts from nine to 10 months.

“If we had extra money to throw around at something, those are the things we would likely choose,” he said Monday. “To me that’s the most immediate need.”

Also at the meeting, Superintendent Scott Mader said the district had received a $56,870 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation that will be used for improvements to the elementary school playground, among other things. Soroco Elementary School Principal Raylene Olinger said funds from the grant already have been used to refurbish the school’s tennis courts and much of the remaining funds would be used to construct new play structures for the campus’ younger children.

The district also announced the resignation of District 3 board member Willie Smith, who last month moved to take another job in North Dakota. The school district now is seeking letters of interest from District 3 residents who would like to serve on the board. District 3 includes Phippsburg and extends to parts of Stagecoach.

In other action

The South Routt School Board:

■ Accepted the resignation of Andy Johnson as head high school boys basketball coach and Willie Smith as head high school girls basketball coach. The board approved the hiring of high school teacher Sam McLeod as the new head coach for the boys basketball team.

■ Planned a retirement reception Oct. 20 for longtime board member Linda Long, who last month announced she would not be seeking her sixth full term on the board she has served on since 1995. Long has worked with the South Routt School District for 40 years, starting as a teacher’s aide in 1971.

■ Heard a presentation from South Routt Elementary School Principal Raylene Olinger about CSAP score growth statistics at the elementary school. Board members praised the results that showed marked improvement in students’ reading scores.

“I remember at this time last year we were pretty depressed" about the scores, board President Tim Corrigan said. “But this year, I feel there’s been a quantum leap forward.”

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

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