Kindergartner Kenzie Moore looks to a classmate while opening a can of Play-Doh during her first day of class in 2014.

John F. Russell/File

Kindergartner Kenzie Moore looks to a classmate while opening a can of Play-Doh during her first day of class in 2014.

More than $3.4M awarded in half-cent sales tax money for 2017

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— More than $3.4 million in half-cent sales tax revenue was tentatively awarded Wednesday to Routt County school districts and school programs.

Among the largest awards was nearly $1.3 million to the Steamboat Springs School District to fund the salaries of 17 teachers in an ongoing effort to keep district class sizes small, a selling point for voters who approved the tax most recently in 2008.

Another large grant for Steamboat was approximately $750,000 for technology, including hardware, software, network costs and staff.

Overall, the Steamboat Springs School District was tentatively awarded nearly $2.8 million, while the Hayden and South Routt school districts will receive about $160,000 to $170,000. Local community groups, including Integrated Community, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and Partners in Routt County, also were awarded more than $120,000.

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks said after the meeting that he felt this year’s process went more smoothly than last year, and that an increase in tax revenue overall allowed more flexibility for the Education Fund.

Mountain Village Montessori Charter School advocates in the room Wednesday watched as the majority of requests from Steamboat and Hayden school districts and all from South Routt were approved, while only $70,000, about a third of the Montessori’s $208,000 request, was approved.

The Montessori school, which opened fall 2016, is a new development for the Education Fund stewards, who only last year outlined percentage guidelines to award to Steamboat (80 percent), and Hayden and South Routt (5 percent each) to help guide the grant award process.

Mountain Village Montessori Charter School director Michael Hayes said after Wednesday’s meeting that the school was fortunate to receive the $70,000 ultimately granted by the commission, despite most of the school’s request being denied.

“We’re all incredibly fortunate to have this resource,” Hayes said. “I think tonight we took a small step toward equity, and we’ve got a ways to go.”

The Montessori school was tentatively awarded $10,000 toward the salary of an art coordinator and $30,000 each toward the salaries of a literacy coach/interventionist and an English language learner and Spanish teacher.

"Our kids are receiving less per child,” Hayes said. “But we’re also the new kid on the block, so the position we’re in is not particularly surprising.”

Grant Commission Chair Stuart Handloff said after Wednesday’s meeting there were lots of opinions among commissioners about whether to fund and how much to fund the Montessori school.

Handloff said he believed the school’s requests for all of the funding for four positions and a $25,000 request for Yampatika programming were too grand considering the size of the school, which has 101 kindergarten through fifth grade students this year.

The funding amounts are subject to final approval by the Education Fund Board, which meets next May 3.

A full list of the grants requested this year is available at steamboateducationfund.org.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

Comments

Scott Wedel 1 week, 6 days ago

The paper has to use a 3 year old photo to find one with a picture of students? That girl is going to be grown up with her own kids in school and still occasionally see her kindergarten picture in the newspaper for an education story.

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Eric Morris 1 week, 5 days ago

Is a reduction in class size ratio the most effective use of education tax dollars to achieve student achievement? This article mentions that if the worst teachers are targeted an increase in class size may actually cause no change, except lower spending.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brookings.edu/research/class-size-what-research-says-and-what-it-means-for-state-policy/amp/

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Carrie Requist 1 week, 5 days ago

I just spent a frustratingly long and fruitless time trying to find the text of the original 1993 half-cent sales tax initiative, but it is my understanding (moved here in 2000) that the original wording specified that the tax would be used for smaller class sizes and that has been the case ever since. Data be damned, people want their children in smaller classes and the tax is billed that way.

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Scott Wedel 1 week, 5 days ago

Eric,

And even more important are involved parents that don't allow administration to say things are good enough. The Montessori Charter school appearing to be growing and should be giving a big kick in the pants to SSSD school board and administration. The 2015 school board election was a weird proxy election on unions with none of the campaigns willing to publicly state that. Meanwhile Rome burned with a misguided proposal for a new HS at Overlook and creating the seeds for a Montessori charter school. That Montessori group wanted a Montessori program in the public schools and when that was denied then they formed their charter school.

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Carrie Requist 1 week, 5 days ago

Scott - the seeds of the Montessori are much older than the failed HS. The original Montessori group starting in 2003 and ended with a public Montessori program at Strawberry Park that started with one 1st-3rd grade class, then added a 4th/5th, then started turning away kids instead of adding another 1st-3rd and ultimately was shut down when non-Montessori trained teachers were hired (sort of like putting an English teacher running the Math class). This Montessori group emerged because of the strong desire of parents in this community to have this learning option for their children and I am thrilled to see how well it is doing as a charter. The North Routt charter didn't get much of the sales tax money its first year either and now has been accepted as part of the school district and a great option for our district students. I hope and expect that the Montessori will follow the same course and become not only an accepted part of SSSD, but a celebrated part along with our other great schools. Full disclosure - I was heavily involved in the first Montessori group and all my children went through the public Montessori program before they aged out into middle school.

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Scott Wedel 1 week, 5 days ago

Carrie,

I wasn't linking the Overlook proposal as leading to the Montessori. "Rome burned" in terms of ignoring important issues within the district such as failing to follow through with a popular in district Montessori program. And now there is a Montessori charter school that is apparently growing rapidly.

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Eric Morris 1 week, 4 days ago

Carrie, on a science or social science paper turned into a teacher at a government school, would the student get a good grade for saying "the data be darned, my personal view is what matters"?

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Carrie Requist 1 week, 4 days ago

Eric - I was not saying that I agree with this attitude, just that this is how the half-cent sales tax has been billed from the beginning - for small class sizes - and the community has repeatedly said that is what they want.

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Eric Morris 1 week, 4 days ago

Carrie, wasn't saying you agreed (based on your colorful wording I assumed you were either ambivalent or disagreed), but was wondering why parents demand one thing of the teachers and another of themselves. Holding kids to standards versus using their guts and others people's money to make other decisions.

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Scott Wedel 1 week, 4 days ago

Eric,

That article is not the end all and be all of class size analysis. It ignores that smaller class sizes are most important at the youngest ages when the kids primarily look to the teacher for questions, assistance or approval, but that other studies have shown that quality of teacher is far more important than class size for the older students as they look to their peers.

Class size should also should take into consideration the class subject. If it is a philosophy class then a small class makes sense so that all students can be expected to take part in class discussions on topics. Meanwhile, a large math class taught by a superior teacher able to be clear, logical and interesting is much better than a smaller class taught by a mediocre math teacher.

And I think a bigger issue facing education that Montessori can solve are classes taught with lower expectations. That the way schools track "good teaching" tends to measure how much of what was taught was learned. So teaching less material and having students learn nearly all of it is considered "better" than teaching more material and having students less of what was presented. In other words, it is "better" to teach 80 topics and have students learn 90% of it (for a total of 72) than teach 120 topics and have students learn 75% of it (for a total of 90). The Montessori model is more likely to expose kids to 120 topics while expecting kids to learn 80.

And for high school kids, it makes no sense to me that those students projected to enroll in college are being taught a one semester college class as two semesters in high school. Not that all courses should be taught at a college pace even for college bound students (college courses can expect a lot of reading or writing outside of class), but the best math class I took prior to college was 9th grade that was 2 years of HS math taught in one year. It was a revelation that a math class didn't have to be mind numbing boring of "are we still on this? - it hasn't changed since yesterday" to having to pay attention or might miss something. Though, 10th grade was back to a mind numbing boring math class taught too slow to be interesting. 1th grade was more interesting because Jim Forthoffer (interesting enough that I remember) said this is too much time to teach this material so half of class time is math and half is him reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and have class discussion, or doing homework for other classes. 4 of us played bridge. School administration had no idea what to do with him because tests said we were learning the material. 12th grade was calculus at a college pace as it was a college course (not even HS credit) so that was good.

But small classes are popular with parents as it makes parents feel good that teacher knows that their kid is bored or something like that. Hi I

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rhys jones 1 week, 4 days ago

I can tell from the comments whether I want to read the article. This one -- not.

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