Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board awards $2.5M in grants
May 9, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board's meeting started Wednesday night with a proposition.
"Does anybody want to sit down and figure out an easier way to do this?" Soda Creek Elementary School science teacher Cindy Gantick asked the board about its grant vetting process that started in February and concluded Wednesday night.
After three months of vetting and arduous debate, Routt County educators left the meeting with $2.5 million they plan to use next school year to purchase new technology, add new teachers and ultimately improve the academic experience of their students.
The educators said they appreciated the money they will receive from the city's half-cent sales tax, but some of them shared Gantick's desire to see the long granting process simplified in the future.
"This is a great resource that the community has, and it should be very proud it has this opportunity to give back to the schools and to enhance education," Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks said. "I think it's tremendous. At the same time, I'd like to see if we can take a step back and review the process and make it simpler, more transparent and less arduous. Anything we can do to simplify the process and expedite it would be welcome."
South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader called the process "exhausting" and recommended the school districts meet with the Fund Board during a retreat before the start of the next funding cycle to re-examine the process.
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"We're grateful for our money," he said about the $159,000 the South Routt School District received. "But I think this process could go smoother if there was some common ground that we could agree on before the start of the next funding year."
Fund Board President Kristi Brown said after the meeting that she welcomed the idea of a retreat, but she said the group should be careful not to change the process only to make it easier.
"We have new board members come on each and every year, and we re-evaluate the process and make changes," she said. "I think that's an important part of the organization being effective. The process is a little arduous, and there are a lot of meetings the requestors have to go to, but there are reasons it's set up that way. It allows maximum participation and transparent discussion."
She said the grant process went smoothly this year and she was glad to see educators once again reap the benefits of the sales tax.
"It's very rewarding," she said. "The opportunities this money provides for students makes us feel very rewarded for what we're doing."
The Fund Board voted unanimously to approve all of the funding applications it heard with the exception of a grant request from Yampatika, a nonprofit that puts on an environmental literacy program in Routt County.
Fund Board Vice President Roger Good opposed the grant along with board member Scott Berry.
"My fundamental concern is we have a 19 percent increase in the number of students who are being served and an 86 percent increase in the cost" to provide the program for those students, Good said. "That looks amiss to me, and it bothers me."
Yampatika Executive Director Sonja Macys defended the value of the program.
"We've been able to improve the curriculum … and offer it to more students, yet we have failed to convince at least one member of the board this program" has merit," Macys said.
The community groups and the three school districts received more funds this funding cycle than they did last year. They received the following amount of funding:
■ Steamboat Springs: $1,996,613 (83 percent)
■ Soroco: $159,000 (7 percent)
■ Hayden: $148,084 (6 percent)
■ North Routt Community Charter School: $35,000 (1 percent)
■ Community groups: $67,500 (3 percent)
*Total grants: $2,536,197
*Grand total includes $130,000 for shared grants and Fund Board administrative costs not included in the revenue distribution
List of approved grants
Steamboat Springs School District
Effective classroom grant ($986,000)
■ Eleven full-time teachers: $624,000
■ English Language Learners program: $160,000
■ Gifted and talented program: $132,000
■ Additional counselor: $70,000
■ Technology staff: $182,400
■ Technology hardware: $300,000
■ Computer software renewals: $124,213
■ Network improvements: $145,000
Elementary school literacy coaches ($110,000)
Middle school Spanish program ($110,000)
Staff development ($39,000)
South Routt School District
Tech tower ($40,000)
■ Project to connect computer networks of Steamboat and South Routt and increase bandwidth
Technology hardware and infrastructure upgrades ($119,000)
Hayden School District
Technology staff ($44,856)
Elementary school technology infrastructure upgrades ($40,721)
Elementary school computer upgrades ($15,992)
Auditorium renovations and upgrades ($10,000)
Middle school intervention staff ($19,662)
Smart Boards ($5,000)
PowerSchool and server update ($5,295)
Software licensing ($6,558)
North Routt Community Charter School
Expeditionary learning program ($35,000)
Yampatika Environmental Literacy program ($8,000)
Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Science School ($20,000)
Partners in Routt County school-based mentors ($37,500)
Steamboat Springs Art Council ($2,000)
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com