Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board discusses accountability | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board discusses accountability

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board on Wednesday night briefly discussed its ongoing effort to better communicate the outcomes and benefits of the grants the board distributes each year to Routt County school districts.

On Wednesday, Glenn Airoldi, the co-chair of the Fund Board commission that evaluates grant requests received from the districts and nonprofit community groups, recommended that the board post on its website new accountability reports that outline the outcomes of grants that were distributed last school year.

"These new reports are going to allow us to define the value of the grants to the community, and not just that the funds were spent as they were intended," he said.

Airoldi told the Fund Board that, in general, the $2.2 million in grants the school districts and community groups received last year from Steamboat's half-cent sales tax for education achieved their intended goals.

"There were no concerns with how the money was spent or the good the money does for the community," he said.

This is the first year that the Fund Board has collected accountability reports from all of its grant recipients. Airoldi said that although the board always has evaluated the effectiveness of its grants, it now can use the reports to increase accountability for the funding.

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Airoldi said that the reports outline how the districts spent the grant money and that some reports also include test scores and teacher surveys to quantify the success of the funding.

"One of the recommendations that came out of this process is that we want to make sure we ask the recipients to define what they accomplish with their grant," he said.

He said all grant requests submitted to the Fund Board must outline a set of intended goals, such as reducing class sizes or having students reach a certain test score, which are reviewed at the end of the grant cycle.

The Fund Board on Wednesday also held a first reading of a $150,000 literacy grant request that would put a full-time reading coach in all four of Routt County's public elementary schools.

Fund Board members mostly were supportive of the grant request, and board member Roger Good asked the school districts to present additional data that validates the literacy coaches as one of the district's greatest needs.

The Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts last month applied together for the Mile High United Way grant that officials in those districts said would help to improve the literacy rates of their kindergarten through third-grade students. The districts have asked the Fund Board to pledge the $150,000 in matching funds necessary to receive the grant. United Way in February is expected to announce the list of grant recipients, and the Fund Board will vote on whether to pledge the matching funds at its next meeting.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the Fund Board received a draft of its 2012-13 budget. Fund Board President Kristi Brown said the board is projecting it can distribute at least $2.2 million in grants to the school districts and community groups next year. Brown said that number could increase because sales tax collections this year so far have met or exceeded expectations.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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