Eighth-grader Jack McNamara performs an experiment in Jennifer Sherman's class at Steamboat Springs Middle School in January. The Steamboat Springs School Board has launched a survey asking community members to prioritize school programs in the district's budget.

Photo by John F. Russell

Eighth-grader Jack McNamara performs an experiment in Jennifer Sherman's class at Steamboat Springs Middle School in January. The Steamboat Springs School Board has launched a survey asking community members to prioritize school programs in the district's budget.

Steamboat Springs School Board seeks community feedback on budget

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Performance-based budgeting

The school district uses a budgeting system it calls performance-based budgeting. A committee of parents, teachers and administrators at each school campus develops separate budget packets anticipating different levels of funding.

Last school year, budget proposals were developed at 96, 98 and 100 percent of that school year's funding level.

Most schools also proposed enhancement packages that could be funded if there were any surplus funds.

After the budget proposals are submitted, the School Board holds a series of public community forums to get feedback on the proposals.

— The Steamboat Springs School Board is circulating a survey it hopes will make future budget decisions easier.

The survey asks district employees, students and community members to prioritize a list of 17 school programs, qualities and electives that range from safe facilities, full-day kindergarten and technology, to elementary school Spanish, textbooks and smaller class sizes.

With limited funding available each year, the School Board is charged to make the final decision as to how much funding school programs receive.

This year, it already knows it will have to again weigh a shortfall in the budget of the district's athletics department against all of the other budget requests it receives from school campuses.

“I hope that it will give us insight into the community's budget priorities,” board member Denise Connelly said about the survey.

She said the community engagement project is expected to last more than a year, and it will involve board members attending several community meetings hosted by organizations ranging from the Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs to the Kiwanis Club.

Connelly said attending the meetings allows the board to explain the budget challenges the district is facing, and also to get feedback from the community on what the district's budget priorities should be.

“I think it's a chance for us to ... let them know we've gone through four years of cuts so far, and we have some concerns about how some of the things happening at the state are going to affect our school district financially,” Connelly said.

About three years ago, the School Board launched a community engagement project that had the district ask community members what students need in school to be prepared to work in an "ever-changing world."

The current survey being circulated can be returned to the district's administrative offices at 325 Seventh St.

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

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