In wide-ranging meeting, Steamboat School Board weighs in on budget proposals

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— In a wide-ranging meeting Monday night, the Steamboat Springs School Board weighed in on the district's budget proposals for next school year and tabled a request to renew the contracts of the district's administrators and directors.

Two of the three board members in attendance said they wanted more time to consider the contracts and determine the future salary schedules of the positions and how they compare to similar school districts.

The rest of the meeting mostly focused on advancements and future plans for the physical education curriculum in Steamboat's schools.

Budget reaction

With the school's busy budget season kicking into full gear, board members started to weigh in on the budget proposals that were presented to the public last week in two community forums.

The board said it was surprised more members of the community didn't turn out to comment on the budgets.

They also were concerned some attendees didn't get the full scope of the district's budget limitations because not everyone attended all of the budget presentations during the two nights they were presented.

“I would have expected to see more people there,” new board member Jim Kissane said.

Board President Brian Kelly said the board again has a number of hard decisions to make this budget cycle.

He specifically questioned the ability of the district's athletic department to continue to financially sustain all of its programs in coming years.

The athletic department is facing a $35,000 transportation shortfall for the second consecutive year and wants to also generate an additional $35,000 to end the tiered system of funding.

Athletic Director Luke DeWolfe last week presented a number of options to close the shortfall that included raising fees, obtaining a subsidy from the district or cutting some athletic programs.

He said it would be difficult to cut programs because the loss in revenue from their elimination would offset the savings.

He also expressed concern about raising fees in a school district that already has some of the highest participation fees in the state.

Still, Kelly said the district needs to evaluate the sustainability of all of its programs.

“I just don't think you can keep raising fees in a flat economy because parents will have a hard time affording them,” Kelly said. “I think you're better off going with the strongest remaining sports.”

Kelly added that with limited funding available, the district should take a hard look at all school programs that have seen low participation.

The board is expected to adopt the full budget in June.

Contract renewals

Earlier in the meeting, the board was scheduled to vote on renewing the contracts of all of the district's administrators and directors at their current salary levels.

Superintendent Brad Meeks said after the contracts were approved, the board would decide on any salary increases for next school year at a future meeting.

Connelly moved to table the vote on the contracts, saying she wanted more information on how the salaries compare to similar districts in the state.

She also wanted to first discuss the future salary schedules of the positions before voting to renew the contracts.

Her motion to table the contract renewals for two weeks was supported by board member Jim Kissane and opposed by Kelly.

The board plans to meet sometime in the next two weeks to discuss the salaries of the positions that include principals and directors.

There are no changes in positions other than the recent resignation of Steamboat Middle School Principal Tim Bishop and Human Resource Director Judy Harris' retirement next school year.

Bishop's resignation was accepted Monday night.

Physical education

An energetic group of the district's physical education and health staff, along with counselors and community partners, briefed the board on the advancements of their curriculum in recent years and outlined ways they think it can be approved.

Middle school physical education teacher Chris Adams kicked off the presentation by outlining what the district has been able to do with a recent $824,000 grant locals schools received from the Colorado Health Foundation.

He said the grant, which was shared with five other school districts including Hayden and South Routt, introduced a skateboarding curriculum in the elementary schools and also provided staff development days for teachers, among other things.

“It's positively impacting our programming,” Adams said.

The physical education teachers also outlined plans to better incorporate psychical activities into the curriculum of core classes.

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

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