Budget process begins for Steamboat Springs School District

Steamboat identifies Spanish program, funding for Tier 2 sports coaches as potential cuts

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— The Steamboat Springs School District on Monday night started to outline what each of its campuses and departments would look like if their budgets were cut by 4 percent next school year.

Finance Director Dale Mellor said at the budget workshop that the school district is tentatively bracing for a $450,000 reduction in state funding next school year.

Steamboat’s principals and administrators kept that in mind as they presented to the Steamboat Springs School Board three budget proposals that outlined what they potentially would keep and cut under a 4 percent budget reduction, under level funding and under a budget surplus. But many of the principals described their budget proposals that included the 4 percent cut as “ugly.”

“I hope we don’t get to this, but if we do, we’ll have to figure out how to make it work,” Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman said before he presented his building’s worst-case budget proposal.

He said the high school’s Students Engaged In Active Learning program, which has teachers work with at-risk students to succeed academically, is one of the items the school likely would have to scale back or eliminate if its budget shrunk by 4 percent.

Other items administrators identified that could be cut from their budgets if they weren’t fully funded next year included the elementary school’s Spanish program and some Colorado Mountain College concurrent enrollment credit hours for students at Yampa Valley School.

A significant reduction also was outlined in Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe’s budget. The reduced and level versions of his draft budgets discontinue the school district’s funding of transportation and coach’s salaries for Tier 2 athletic programs that include such sports as tennis, cheerleading, skiing and lacrosse. Instead, those costs would be placed on parents and booster clubs.

“The booster clubs (who support the Tier 2 programs) are very concerned,” DeWolfe said. “They don’t know where that money would come from, especially when fundraising is tight. They are concerned that this (reduction) would lead to a lot of the Tier 2 sports losing participants and not continuing.”

Monday’s budget presentations, which lasted for four hours, marked the start of the district’s performance-based budget process that remains fluid and will continue through June. Parents and community members will have a chance to weigh in on the budget proposals at two public meetings April 3 and 9.

“These budget packets took months of work to put together, and this was a good beginning in bringing forward a budget the board will feel comfortable adopting a couple of months from now,” Superintendent Brad Meeks said after the meeting. “Some of these ideas and proposals will be refined. Although it’s difficult, financially we’re in a stronger position than most, and I’m confident we will be able to balance our budget while still maintaining strong programs and effective classrooms in our district.”

Health care clinic

At the start of Monday’s workshop, the School Board tabled a vote on whether to authorize Meeks to sign a contract with Healthstat, a Charlotte, N.C.-based company that would set up and manage a health and wellness clinic for district employees.

Meeks said the contract was not yet ready to present to the board and that lawyers for the district and Healthstat still were working to finalize the proposal.

He said the School Board now is scheduled to consider the proposal at its April 2 meeting.

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

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