Steamboat Springs School Board to consider approving budget at Monday meeting

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What: Steamboat Springs School Board meeting

When: 5 p.m. Monday

Where: Steamboat Springs High School

— The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday night will tackle a heavy agenda as it considers approving the school district's budget, evaluates Superintendent Brad Meeks' performance and pays tribute to nine educators who are retiring.

After months of review and public forums, the School Board is ready to weigh the final budget that is devoid of any major program cuts and, for the first time in five years, is projected to include more revenue from the state.

“I think the staff and the community has done a good job with it this year,” School Board President Brian Kelly said about the budget, noting at this time last year, there still were some contentious budget discussions happening.

The board specifically was weighing a restructuring of the fifth grade band program and the elimination of the upper-level Montessori program.

Although revenue has increased this school year, the budget holds a $230,000 deficit that the district and the board have indicated they are comfortable covering with the district's fund balance that is projected to equal $7.1 million.

The deficit partly stems from the funding of a two-year, $1 million pay raise plan approved by the School Board in June that is being covered by the fund balance.

The School Board has noted at previous meetings that the fund balance has remained healthier than anticipated.

Kelly said a 5 percent increase in health insurance costs also is contributing to the deficit, among other things.

To help offset the shortfall, the district will propose cutting expenses in some areas including $35,000 from the budget of the district's central office, $2,000 from the gifted and talented program's supply budget and $14,000 in fuel from the transportation budget, among other things.

Next school year's budget also includes new fees that will help offset a $70,000 shortfall in the athletics budget and help end the two-tiered system of sports funding.

The School Board will conclude Monday's meeting in executive session to conduct the annual review of Superintendent Meeks.

Meeks received a positive review last year, and the School Board voted to extend his contract through the end of next school year.

Kelly said the board on Monday will discuss extending Meeks' contract an additional year through the 2014-15 school year.

Meeks, who in 2011 came to Steamboat from the Farmington Area Public Schools in Minnesota, is finishing his second year with the district.

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

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