Steamboat Education Fund Board to discuss salaries |

Steamboat Education Fund Board to discuss salaries

The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board on Wednesday night will discuss whether it should again fund the salaries of school district administrators with revenues from the city's half-cent sales tax for education.

The board often has funded salaries for positions that include technology directors and curriculum directors within Routt County school districts, but in recent years the board has not approved such funding and has instead directed its tax revenues to be spent on classroom programs.

"We've tried to move away from that and have the districts pick up the administrator salaries, but we're going to discuss it as a group and decide how comfortable we would be considering those kinds of grants again," Fund Board President Kristi Brown said Monday.

The Fund Board last year tabled a grant request that would have funded the salary of a curriculum director shared between the Hayden and Steamboat school districts because of opposition from teachers and parents who questioned whether it was an appropriate use of grant funding in the face of budget reductions.

Brown said Wednesday night's discussion will give school districts a better idea of what types of grant applications the Fund Board will approve for their next school year.

The board last fiscal year distributed $2.3 million in half-cent sales tax revenues to school districts in Routt County, and Brown said the board is estimating a 2 percent drop in revenues for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

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Meanwhile, the Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt school districts are working with the Fund Board to apply for a grant from Mile High United Way to fund literacy programs. The grant was advertised to school districts during Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia's visit last month to Strawberry Park Elementary School. Brown said the grant request would total as much as $100,000.

Restructuring possible

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Fund Board will vote on whether to combine the two commissions that weigh grant requests.

The board operates with two 11-member grant committees that evaluate funding requests from school districts and community members, and Brown said a "yes" vote would consolidate those two commissions, called the Education Excellence and Capital and Technology commissions, into one 11-member commission next year. With community input, the commission makes recommendations to the Fund Board about what programs and projects to fund for the school districts.

Brown said the change would allow the Fund Board to operate more efficiently.

"The main reason for the change is we've had multiple commissions handle the requests that fit certain categories such as technology and small class size, but what we have found is those are not separate anymore," she said. "Separating those disciplines has become cumbersome."

The 11-member commission next year would include nine representatives from Steamboat and one representative each from Hayden and South Routt.

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