Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs School District Finance Director Dale Mellor had some good news to share with the School Board on Monday night.
He said a school finance bill working its way through the state Legislature would leave education funding level next school year, meaning Steamboat would lose about $10 per student, or a total of $23,000 districtwide.
“That isn’t too bad considering all the cuts we’ve had” to make in recent years, Mellor told the School Board. “This is much better than we had heard from the (Gov. John Hickenlooper’s) budget that was released in December. That was going to cut us around $250,000.”
Mellor said the school district last year cut $1.8 million from its budget.
He added that earlier budget proposals from the state would have forced Steamboat to cut even more than $250,000, but in December, Hickenlooper proposed scaling back millions in proposed cuts to Colorado public schools in the 2012-13 school year because of higher-than-forecasted state revenues.
The Denver Post reported last week that the Colorado House approved a $19 billion state budget that would keep per-pupil funding for K-12 schools almost the same as it was the current school year. The budget now must be weighed by the Senate.
Still, Mellor said the district won’t know exactly how much money it will receive from the state until the Legislature adjourns in May.
“We’re on hold right now until we know how much we’ll end up with,” he said.
Mellor also briefed the School Board on how Steamboat’s District Accountability Committee, which is made up of teachers, parents and administrators, last week ranked the school district’s budget proposals for next school year.
According to a poll of its 13 voting members, the committee placed a higher value on funding for core school programming included in the budgets of the high school, middle school and elementary schools, and a lower value on support services such as the district’s teaching and learning, transportation and maintenance departments.
“That’s generally what happens each year is the budgets that include the programs that directly affect the kids get ranked higher than support services,” Mellor said.
Superintendent Brad Meeks said the board will weigh a preliminary budget May 24 after the Legislature adjourns, and adopt a final version June 4.
“I think we’re in a good position as we’re entering the last couple of months of school here,” he said.
He added that the district’s administrative team will meet Thursday to go through the possible reductions and enhancements proposed by each campus and department to put together a proposal the School Board can consider next month.
“Most likely it will be a combination of reductions and enhancements,” he said. “I think we’ve got some good options for the district to consider as we move forward in presenting a balanced budget.”
The School Board kicked off Monday’s meeting with a reception that honored the school district’s four Teacher of the Year candidates.
The teachers that were honored Monday night included Strawberry Park Elementary School special education teacher Diane Yazbeck, who was selected as the district’s overall teacher of the year; Soda Creek Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Kelaine Sowards; Steamboat Springs High School math teacher Anne Barbier; and Steamboat Springs Middle School science teacher Lisa Lorenz.
“What strikes me about this group is the diversity of your backgrounds,” Meeks said. “It’s an honor to work in the district and I’m honored you are our teacher of the year award winners.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com