Districts to present Fund Board requests | SteamboatToday.com

Districts to present Fund Board requests

Jack Weinstein

— Routt County school districts are scheduled to make initial presentations tonight for Education Fund Board gifts.

The meeting will allow Fund Board and commission members to hear how the Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts are prioritizing their needs for funding this year, Fund Board President Mark Andersen said.

Andersen said official presentations to the Technology/Capital and Educational Excel­lence commissions would occur next month. Commission members will hear requests and do research before making recommendations to the Fund Board, which will ultimately decide how to allocate the sales tax revenue.

Steamboat voters first ap­­proved the half-cent sales tax for education in 1993. Since then, it has provided more than $33 million in sales tax revenue to the Steamboat Springs School District. The tax has been renewed twice.

Like the districts, Andersen said, the Fund Board will need to prioritize granting gifts this year. He said there are always more gift requests than there is funding available, but there's even less money this year.

As of October, Steamboat's year-to-date sales tax collections were down 17.8 percent for 2009, according to figures released by the city last month.

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"It's the beginning of a difficult process," Andersen said. "We're still fortunate to benefit our school systems through this half-cent sales tax."

Steamboat Springs Super­intendent Shalee Cunningham said the district's funding requests this year would be similar to what it has asked for in the past. In previous years, the majority of the district's requests were aimed at technology needs and keeping class sizes small.

Cunningham said the district has been told there will be only about $2 million in sales tax revenue this year for the Fund Board to allocate.

"We're just trying to be as conservative as possible," she said.

The Fund Board is projecting the sales tax to generate $2.29 million this school year. That's down from more than $2.5 million in 2008-09 and a record $3.2 million in revenue from the sales tax in 2007-08.

Less revenue may be available to Steamboat this year because it's sharing the tax with the Hayden and South Routt districts, a change voters approved in November 2008.

Last month, the Fund Board approved new bylaws that allow the districts to make funding requests. But it still would be up to the Fund Board to grant any request. Hayden and South Routt made requests and were provided funding gifts last year. Last month's action defined the Fund Board's ability to disburse funds to the districts.

Hayden and South Routt will each get 10 minutes to present their initial requests for funding. Steamboat will have 20 minutes to make its presentation. Community groups will have 15 minutes total to request funding. Andersen said those would include Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Partners in Routt County, Yampatika and the Steamboat School District's 5th Quarter program.

Last month, the Hayden School Board approved the district's plans to request $139,000 in gifts this year, primarily for technology. The district requested about $119,000 in gifts last year, mostly for technology. It received more than $115,000.

South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader said at last month's School Board meeting that the district would request a $56,000 software program for computers it bought last year from a gift provided by the Fund Board. Last year, the district received $90,000 in Fund Board gifts. In addition to the computers, a gift paid for a curriculum consultant.

Mader said Tuesday that the district would not request funding to pay for the first year of a proposed program to buy Apple MacBook laptop computers for incoming Soroco High School freshmen.

The Fund Board meets at 5:30 p.m. in the downstairs conference room of the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street in Steamboat. District presentations are scheduled to begin at 6:20 p.m.

If you go

What: Education Fund Board meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. today

Where: Downstairs meeting room of the George P. Sauer Human Services Center on Seventh Street