Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board finalizes awards for upcoming year | SteamboatToday.com

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Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board finalizes awards for upcoming year

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board has finalized the list of grant requests approved for the upcoming year, which total $2,857,691.

That makes the total amount of grants approved almost 10 percent higher than last year, when the board awarded $2,602,000 to the three local school districts, community groups and collaborative grants.

The grant monies available from year to year vary with the dedicated half-cent sales tax in Steamboat Springs that funds the program. The Fund Board also likes to keep a reserve balance of $500,000.

All three school districts saw their total award amounts increase compared to last year while their individual shares remained largely constant.

Steamboat Springs School District will receive $2,345,332, South Routt School District will receive $142,770 and Hayden School District will receive $134,589.

"Nobody has a set percentage or anything like that," Fund Board President Kristi Brown said about the breakdown of award totals between districts. "We really want to keep it wide open to be able to focus on the quality of the grant requests that come in."

The grant commission did a great job of focusing on the organization's mission statement, which emphasizes student-facing investments, when evaluating requests this year, Brown said.

For example, the commission did not fully fund some laptop and desktop computer requests that were identified as priorities but did fund a part-time science teacher position that the South Routt School District had not marked as a priority.

The district was concerned about the sustainability of the position, Brown said, but the grant commission was excited about the prospect of offering more and higher-level science courses.

If the district needs to come back next year with a request to fund the same position, so be it, Brown said was the commission's response to the district.

"Kids are just going gaga over science classes lately," she said. "We have kids taking two and three science classes at a time now."

The increase in demand made the half-time science teacher position a better fit for the grant commission than completing the computer purchases in a single grant cycle.

"This is awesome and absolutely student facing," Brown said about the science teacher position.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz