Fund Board to tighten budget | SteamboatToday.com

Fund Board to tighten budget

Education group to address declining sales tax revenues

Zach Fridell

— The Education Fund Board will grapple with tough decisions and a revenue decrease of about $500,000 tonight as the group decides allocations for the 2009-10 school year.

Based on a projected decrease in sales tax revenue and a desire to keep adequate funds in reserve, the Fund Board will hear second readings on requests, but several major requests already have withdrawn or are likely to be cut. The Fund Board administers the city’s half-cent sales tax for education.

Montessori supporters withdrew a $75,000 request for an expansion of the Steamboat Springs School District’s Montessori program, for example, and funding for teacher training in Steamboat Springs was cut from proposals as the total budget for the year decreased from $3.3 million to $2.8 million.

Proposals for the Hayden and South Routt school districts were cut similarly, with fire alarms and radios, a kitchen stove, a high-jump pit and an SUV all removed from the proposals.

Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said the district is likely to receive about $200,000 less from the Fund Board than previous years, including a cut in funding for English Language Learner and gifted and talented teachers.

She said a decrease from the Fund Board does not mean those programs necessarily will be cut, but she said it will be difficult to come up with the funds needed to cover the deficit.

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“We can always reprioritize our budget and decide those projects are important and cut the budget elsewhere,” she said.

The three commissions of the Fund Board – educational excellence, technology and capital – all were asked to trim their budgets to make room for the decrease.

Paige Boucher, an educational excellence commission member and representative to the Fund Board, said district priorities and funding plans guided decisions about what to cut.

“We are not dictating what the district spends their money on, if they feel this is a priority they can cut somewhere else,” she said.

The educational excellence commission still is bringing forward $800,000 to support small class sizes, a major part of the Fund Board’s advertising campaign in the renewal of the half-cent sales tax at the ballot in November and in previous renewal votes.

“I think we’re just being very conservative with the current economic climate,” said Kristi Brown, a member of the capital commission and Fund Board representative.

Brown’s commission reduced the amount brought forward from their commission from $440,000 at the first reading to $180,000 at this second reading, including a special $80,000 provision for the three-district grant writer.

If approved at tonight’s meeting, the Fund Board will forward the gifts to the individual school districts for approval.

If you go

What: Education Fund Board meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street

Agenda:

5:30 p.m. Call to order

5:35 p.m. Public Comment

5:45 p.m. Financial Report

6:05 p.m. Second Readings

7:20 p.m. Other Business

7:30 p.m. Adjourn