Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board discussion focuses on process | SteamboatToday.com

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Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board discussion focuses on process

Group members agree that collaboration, detailed information key to effective granting

Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs Edu­cation Fund Board spent an hour and a half of its monthly meeting Wednesday in an ongoing conversation with Routt County school district officials about the mechanics of its granting process. — The Steamboat Springs Edu­cation Fund Board spent an hour and a half of its monthly meeting Wednesday in an ongoing conversation with Routt County school district officials about the mechanics of its granting process.

— The Steamboat Springs Edu­cation Fund Board spent an hour and a half of its monthly meeting Wednesday in an ongoing conversation with Routt County school district officials about the mechanics of its granting process.

The goal of the workshop was to streamline the grant application and review process that leads to the allocation of city of Steamboat Springs half-cent sales tax revenues to programs and projects in the Hayden, Steamboat Springs and South Routt school districts.

The Fund Board, a volunteer group that administers the tax revenues, expanded the allocation of its more than $2 million in annual revenues to the three school districts after a November 2008 ballot initiative that supported sharing the funds with the two public school systems outside Steamboat. Since that vote, the process by which the Fund Board allocates grants and prioritizes needs has been subject to ongoing discussions.

Several Fund Board members encouraged collaboration among the three Routt County school districts receiving funds.

Fund Board member and Technology/Capital Commission President Roger Good said collaboration on projects should be encouraged where applicable. He mentioned how the licensing of Microsoft software was cheaper when Hayden, South Routt and Steamboat Springs lumped their requests together.

"We should be giving carrots for collaboration no matter what, and when they come together we reward the collaboration and say, 'That's a great thing,'" Good said.

"And we'll look at other requests independently. We really try to get the best bang for the buck in any case."

Dean Massey, a Fund Board and Technology/Capital Com­mission member, agreed that collaboration, where possible, should be encouraged.

"I think there is some merit to saying we'd like to see everybody save some money and do the right thing together," Massey said.

Shalee Cunningham, superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District, said she and officials from the other districts already are discussing collaborative projects they will present to the commissions this year.

Fund Board President Kristi Brown cautioned that collaboration shouldn't be forced when unnecessary or not cost-effective.

"We're not looking for collaboration for collaboration's sake," Brown said. "It's the cost savings when you get down to it."

The Fund Board's grant application came up, as well, specifically the exact amount of information necessary to make informed decisions about where to allocate funds, Massey said.

"We are essentially a granting agency," Massey said. "We're giving grants to the districts to accomplish certain goals. We're not charged with funneling money to the districts for whatever they ask for. We have an independent decision-making process. I've had a concern we're not getting sufficient information."

For example, one of those pieces of information was the possibility of secondary costs associated with implementing new programs. He said the board has seen varying levels of detail from each district and with each request.

Stuart Handloff, who was approved Wednesday as a new member of the Educa­­tional Ex­­­­­cellence Commis­sion, mentioned the possibility of using the uniform Colorado Common Grant Application form to streamline the process.

No decisions were made during Wednesday's workshop, but school district officials expressed a willingness to continue the discussions and comply with any changes.

In an economic recession with public education funding in jeopardy, South Routt School Board President Tim Corrigan said school districts were willing to collaborate and provide more detailed information when applying for grants from the Fund Board.

"We're still in the position of we're thrilled to get whatever we get," he said.