Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board requests finalized

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— A month after it was held back in part because of its vast price tag, the Steamboat Springs School District’s largest grant request to the Education Fund Board cleared the first step in a long vetting process Wednesday night.

The Fund Board’s grant commission last month declined to move the Steamboat request forward because of its high price tag and lack of accountability measures. The school district returned to the commission Wednesday with a pared down and restructured version of its “effective classroom” grant request that originally sought $2.6 million. The move reduced the value of the district’s grant applications from $2.7 million to $2 million, and the grant commission voted unanimously to send the leaner “effective classroom” request to the voting board for a first reading next month.

The grant now seeks $986,000 for the program, but some of the original line items have been moved to separate applications. According to district officials, $624,000 of the grant would be used to fund 11 teachers and help the district maintain average class sizes of 20 students per teacher at the elementary school level and 25 students per teacher at the secondary level. The grant request also asks for $160,000 to fund the district’s English-language learners program, $70,000 to fund an additional counselor and $132,000 to support the district’s gifted and talented program.

Other grant requests the Fund Board is considering from the Steamboat school district include $118,000 to support its Spanish language program, $118,000 to fund two literacy coaches who would work at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools, $182,400 to fund the district’s technology staff, $350,000 to replace at the elementary schools 200 Apple computers that are 10 to 12 years old and update teachers’ phone systems, $124,213 to buy computer software renewals, $155,000 for network improvements and $40,000 for staff development.

The school district dropped funding requests for its Title I reading and special education programs and increased the amount it is seeking for technology improvements.

“We’ve heard concern at the commission and the Fund Board level about providing funds for programs that have state and federal mandates, so we shifted those requests to technology, which is an area we think is more comfortable for the commission and the Fund Board,” Superintendent Brad Meeks said.

While Routt County’s three school districts and education-oriented community groups submitted $3.7 million worth of grant requests to the Fund Board in February, reductions in requests have cut the total to about $2.7 million. That figure is about $202,000 more than the $2.5 million the Fund Board projects it will be able to distribute next school year, a difference Fund Board President Kristi Brown said is much more manageable than it was previously.

“We’re in a position now where we can work with a scalpel instead of a machete,” Brown said Wednesday.

The Fund Board’s grant commission next month will decide where to cut the $202,000 from the applications.

“We’ve just started the discussions of how we’re going to prioritize the requests and allocate the funding to make sure we provide the greatest benefits to the community,” grant commission Chairman Glenn Airoli said.

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

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