Steamboat Springs School District seeks $2.5 million from Education Fund Board | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs School District seeks $2.5 million from Education Fund Board

— The Steamboat Springs School District is hoping the city's half-cent sales tax will fund full-day kindergarten, middle school French instruction and numerous technology upgrades, among other things next school year.

Superintendent Brad Meeks and Technology Director Tim Miles outlined their hopes to the Education Fund Board's Grant Commission Wednesday night, as did representatives from Hayden and Soroco school districts also hoping for funding.

Each grant request submitted by all three districts passed a first reading by the commission, who will review them again in April, and assign amounts to some or all of the items requested, before passing its recommendations onto the Education Fund Board.

The board is projected to have about $3.36 million to disperse to school districts for use during the 2015-16 school year, about $530,000 more than it had in the previous year.

Steamboat is asking for grants totaling more than $2.5 million, while Soroco is seeking about $200,000 and Hayden is seeking about $220,000.

The half-cent sales tax for the fund is generated through sales in Steamboat, but voters in 2008 agreed to allow the board to share the tax with the neighboring school districts.

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Among the grants discussed Wednesday was the Steamboat Springs School District's request to fund all-day kindergarten at a cost of about $330,000 for the year.

The district currently funds half-day kindergarten, and parents pay approximately $2,400 per year to upgrade to full-day kindergarten.

Funding a full-day program would save parents that cost and include students who have been unable to attend the program or those reliant on scholarships that may not always be available.

"Most kindergarten families find a way to make it happen — that doesn't mean it’s easy for them," Meeks said.

Several parents, district kindergarten teachers and other supporters of full-day kindergarten attended Wednesday's meeting to show their support.

"As a parent who had a kindergartener last year, I want to say that you could tell which kids only went half-day — they were the ones that fell further and further behind," said Amanda Montgomery, president of the Parent Information Committee at Strawberry Park Elementary.

Under the request, all-day kindergarten would also be provided for North Routt Charter School.

Steamboat requested $33,500 to begin a middle school French program and operate it for three years, after which time Meeks said the district would absorb the costs.

The district is also seeking funding for a STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — specialist at one elementary school, and Meeks said the district could match that grant if it were funded by the board to provide a specialist at the other elementary school.

The district's most significant request is for the board to continue funding the salaries and benefits of 16 of the district's 180 teachers. The district requested $1.1 million for academic excellence, which includes the cost of teachers and the full-day kindergarten program.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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