Steamboat Education Fund Board stays conservative
Group votes to put additional projected revenue in reserves
February 17, 2011
Education Excellence Commission requests
Effective classrooms: $980,000
Staff development: $40,000
Spanish instruction: $100,000
Curriculum director (joint request with South Routt): $60,000
Summer school (joint request with Hayden and South Routt): $20,000
Total: $1.2 million
Curriculum director (joint request with Steamboat): $40,000
Summer school (joint request with Steamboat and Hayden): $7,500
Middle school paraprofessional: $21,846
Summer school (joint request with Steamboat and South Routt): $7,500
Partners in Routt County school-based mentoring program: $50,000
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Yampa Valley Science School: $34,000
Yampatika environmental literacy programs: $29,692
Total requests: $1,390,538
Steamboat Springs — The Education Fund Board on Wednesday night decided against increasing the 2011-12 budget despite more than $100,000 in additional projected sales tax dollars.
After a short discussion in which Fund Board members couldn't reach a decision, they voted unanimously after Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham suggested saving the money.
Gov. John Hickenlooper proposed this week to cut $360 million next year from K-12 education statewide, about 8 percent, in an effort to address a budget shortfall of about $1.1 billion.
"It will be nice to know that you have a little bit of a bank account for these core programs," Cunningham said.
Instead of adding the additional projected sales taxes to the $2.34 million 2011-12 budget, Fund Board members opted to put it in reserves. That boosts the 2012 year-end reserves to more than $606,000.
Fund Board Vice President Mark Andersen said that approach is more in line with how the volunteer group that allocates the city of Steamboat Springs' half-cent sales tax for education has operated in the past.
"Traditionally, in years past we tried to forecast conservatively because we didn't want to have our hands tied," he said. "If collections outperform our projections, we can grant more at that time."
Despite the conservative action Wednesday, the Fund Board previously dipped into reserves to create the 2011-12 budget. The nearly $240,000 in reserves allows the Fund Board to gift slightly more than the $2.2 million it provided to the Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt school districts and community groups in 2010-11.
Before the budget discussion, members heard nearly $1.4 million in first requests from the Educational Excellence Commission. The Fund Board heard more than $1.4 million in first requests from the Technology/Capital Commission last week.
Also at the meeting Wednesday, Fund Board members, by a unanimous vote, instructed the commissions to present second readings at the March 23 meeting, ranked in order of priority. According to the motion, each commission will get at least $1 million in requests and the remaining $340,000 will be up for grabs — leaving nearly $500,000 in requests that will go unfunded.
Before that meeting, commission members will meet to decide what to present at second readings. They can reduce funding requests or choose to not bring back certain requests on second reading. But the final decision lies with the Fund Board.
"When I look at these requests, I see some low-hanging fruit in (Technology/Capital) that could be cut," Fund Board President Kristi Brown said. "When I look at (Educational Excellence), I don't see much that's not going to be painful to cut."
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org