Steamboat Springs Calling their recent merger of technology services an exciting success, the Steamboat Springs and South Routt school districts have launched a new administrative partnership.
Starting this week, Steamboat will manage most of the finance and human resources responsibilities for Soroco.
South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader said he approached the larger district with the idea following the recent resignation of his finance director.
“We think this is going to be a win-win,” Mader said.
He said the move will save Soroco about $20,000 annually and give it access to six of Steamboat's staff members, including a new employee who will be hired to work as a receptionist in South Routt's administrative offices.
Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks said the partnership will result in a more efficient use of resources.
“If we have a way to stretch tax dollars and still provide a high level of service, I think it's worth exploring,” he said. “We're very optimistic about this.”
To illustrate how common it is for smaller, rural districts to collaborate with larger districts, Meeks said Friday that he remembers when, as a principal of a small school in South Dakota in the late 1980s, he drove payroll documents to a larger district in Sioux Falls for processing.
New technology will make the new collaboration here in Routt County easier than that.
Under the two-year agreement, South Routt will pay Steamboat $57,400 annually for the services.
A new employee will be hired to work in Oak Creek for six hours per day, and a part-time receptionist in Steamboat's office will be upgraded to full time to handle student data for Soroco.
Both superintendents said the move is not a precursor to a full consolidation of the school districts.
“I think this is an efficient way of consolidating services without really consolidating,” Mader said.
As their budgets have gotten tighter in recent years, all of the school districts in Routt County have found ways to work together to save money.
The Hayden and Moffat County school districts have for the past three years shared transportation resources, and Steamboat and South Routt fully merged their technology services last year.
“That has worked out like a dream,” Mader said about the merger. “It's been a much more stable environment for us.”
The new administrative partnership was presented July 15 to the South Routt School Board.
According to the meeting minutes, initial reaction was mixed with some board members immediately endorsing the move and touting its cost savings and others worrying about a community perception that the districts were consolidating.
The memorandum of understanding with Steamboat was approved unanimously by the board July 18.
Mader said Friday that he was open to finding other ways to partner with Steamboat, including allowing employees in his district to utilize the new health care clinic for district employees in Steamboat.
“We'd be open to those kinds of conversations,” Meeks said about the idea. “We're all facing the same things.”
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com
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