Steamboat Springs School District hosting its annual community budget forums in two weeks

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— As the Steamboat Springs School District prepares to formally adopt its 2014-15 budget a few months from now, the first steps leading up to that action have been scheduled to engage the community in the budget-planning process.

On March 31 and April 1, the district’s finance department will hold community budget forums to give district patrons an opportunity to listen to budget package presentations during the two-day span. Friday marked the beginning analysis of the submitted budget packages by district finance director Dale Mellor.

The presentations will be divided in half. On March 31, interested community members as well as members of the District Accountability Committee will hear budget presentations from the elementary schools, special education, Yampa Valley High School, English language learning, gifted and talented, teaching and learning as well as health.

On April 1, the group will listen to budget presentations from the middle school, high school, athletics, maintenance, transportation, technology and district office.

“We started doing the community forums a couple years ago when I first came,” Superintendent Brad Meeks said. “This is our third year. This is part of our process. We will present, get some feedback, and we will also have the District Accountability Committee there and also use these forums for feedback as we prepare a budget recommendation to the board.”

In previous years, Meeks said, the community budget forums largely have been attended by those with vested interests in certain areas, as well as those with direct ties to committees such as the DAC.

“I would say that most of the turnout that has been there has been people from the committees and the DAC group," Meeks said. "I can’t say that it’s 100 or 200 local people coming. I think those concerned with particular program areas possibly would come. We at least offer, and if they come, they come.”

On March 28, the budget committee will review the presentations before they are presented at the community forums.

On May 1, the district budget committee will submit its recommended budget item rankings to Mellor and Meeks. Mellor then will consolidate budget priorities into a single ranked budget. Meeks also will submit his ranking recommendations.

A budget presentation will be provided to the board at its May 5 regular meeting. At the June meeting, the budget will be adopted, and the board will critique the budget-planning process, which will take place throughout the next 10 weeks.

“The more people come, the better,” Meeks said about the upcoming community forums. “The more people who understand school finance and budgeting, that’s better for us. That means more people educated about school finance and programs.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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