Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board to talk process at Wednesday meeting

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What: Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: 325 Seventh St.

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board will meet Wednesday night to weigh some proposed changes to its grant vetting process that kicks off in February.

Fund Board President Kristi Brown said the proposed changes to the three-month-long vetting cycle aim to improve the communication between the board and the local school districts that apply for grants funded by the city of Steamboat's half-cent sales tax for education.

“We do this every year,” she said about the fall workshop to discuss how grants will be weighed. “It gives us a chance to improve on what we did the year before.”

Brown said the board also will consider developing a mission statement that could help clarify the types of grants it will endorse. In recent years, for example, the board has made it clear they would like to move away from funding the salaries of school district administrators.

In May, the Fund Board approved $2.5 million worth of grants for the Hayden, South Routt and Steamboat school districts that the districts now are using to purchase new technology, add new teachers and ultimately improve the academic experience of their students.

But administrators from all three districts said the grant vetting process could be streamlined and simplified in the future.

“This is a great resource that the community has, and it should be very proud it has this opportunity to give back to the schools and to enhance education,” Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks said at a Fund Board meeting in May. “I think it’s tremendous. At the same time, I’d like to see if we can take a step back and review the process and make it simpler, more transparent and less arduous. Anything we can do to simplify the process and expedite it would be welcome.”

Brown said the biggest proposed change to the 2013 grant process is to add written communication between the school districts and the Fund Board as the grants are vetted.

In previous years, the school districts did not receive feedback on their grants until they met with the Fund Board twice each month.

Brown said the new system would avoid “surprises” and streamline the process.

She added the new communication system also could make the school district's attendance at some Fund Board meetings more optional.

“I think it'll be a little bit more work up front for everybody, but hopefully we'll save a lot of time at the end,” she said. “We've heard from the grant requests that they want it streamlined and made easier.”

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Fund Board will consider adding four new members to its grant vetting committee.

The applicants include:

  • Kelly Stanford, executive director of Routt County United Way
  • Barb Parnell, community coordinator for LiveWell Northwest Colorado
  • Laura Kaster, information technology manager at Yampa Valley Medical Center
  • Kevin Lind, architect

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

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