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School districts discuss cooperation

Representatives from Routt County’s three school districts are discussing how to share their resources.

The first meeting, which was held Friday, focused on how to create more cooperation and sharing among the school districts. Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts each had a member participate.

Tim Corrigan, the South Routt School Board member who is participating in discussions, said the meeting was “very positive.”

“What we’re going to get out of this is a real focus on looking at educational issues for the three districts on a countywide basis,” Corrigan said.

In addition to Corrigan, Pat Gleason, a Steamboat Springs School Board member, and Brian Hoza, a Hayden School Board member, are participating.

The group was formed a month ago after the South Routt School Board asked the Steamboat Springs Fund Board to consider funding needs in other county school districts. The Fund Board manages funds from Steamboat’s half-cent sales tax for education. One argument for funding programs outside the Steamboat district is that many county residents buy groceries and other goods in Steamboat, therefore contributing to the sales tax.

Fund Board members said at the time that they likely would not give money to other districts, and they passed a resolution last week reiterating that point. But they did suggest that representatives from the three school districts meet to discuss sharing resources.

Corrigan said that, at this point, the discussions have nothing to do with the half-cent sales tax.

Rather, the group is looking at areas where there could be cooperation and joint-program management. Those included vocational and agricultural education, professional development, technological resources and coordination of content and accountability standards.

For instance, Corrigan said there are various strengths that the Steamboat district has that Hayden and South Routt do not, such as technological resources. But, Hayden has a strong vocational-education program, and South Routt has a strong agricultural-education program, both of which Steamboat students might want to access.

Any decisions on how to share resources must benefit all districts, Corrigan said.

“It needs to work for everybody,” he said. “It’s not just to benefit Soroco and just to benefit Hayden — it needs to be a win-win situation for everybody.”

The group is looking at the Steamboat district to take a leadership role in the work, Corrigan said. The first step is to find a way to fund and conduct a survey to identify the strengths and weaknesses in the three districts, as well as their specific needs.

After the survey is finished, the group can work on specific strategies and programs.

The group will continue to meet regularly, though it likely will take a year or two before specific changes can be put in place, Corrigan said.

At the group’s first meeting, all three representatives agreed that consolidation of the three school districts was not an option.

“The three of us talked a little bit philosophically about the importance to maintain each of our three school districts as viable, independent entities,” Corrigan said.

Corrigan said the discussion about sharing resources is a new direction for the three districts. And, he said, it’s a positive one that will help make education better for all students in the entire community.

— To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com