Districts will allow school-based mentors in 2016-17 | SteamboatToday.com

Districts will allow school-based mentors in 2016-17

Districts will allow school-based mentors in 2016-17

School-based mentor Becky Kruger helps a Soda Creek Elementary student with a math assignment in 2013. On Thursday, Routt County's school district superintendents said they would accept the school-based mentoring program into their schools next year, following a controversy over how the program would be funded.

— Superintendents for Routt County's three school districts confirmed Thursday they would accept the Partners in Routt County/AmeriCorps school-based mentor program into their schools next year.

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks said he met with his administrative team Thursday morning, and the group agreed to allow the school-based mentor program to continue operating.

"We're going to proceed with Partners for next year," Meeks said.

Meeks said he would reach out to Partners in Routt County Executive Director Michelle Petix and ask her to provide an overview to district administrators about the program's future beyond next year.

Meeks said he would still like clarification on exactly which streams of Education Fund money would be used to fund the request, but he felt comfortable with the Education Fund Board's efforts to ensure the money used wouldn't come from district allocations.

South Routt Superintendent Darci Mohr said the district is still building its budget, but she planned to add the host site fees for Partners to a list of budget considerations to be reviewed by the board of education.

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"I saw a different Fund Board last night, and I'm pleased with the direction they chose and the leadership that Sam Jones and Jay O'Hare are providing," Mohr said.

Hayden Superintendent Phil Kasper said he would recommend to the Hayden Board of Education to approve host site fees as part of its budget for next year.

"We've always intended to accept the program at its current rate," Kasper said. "We're still in the budget process, so I don't want to say it's 100 percent, but we're building that into the budget, and if it's approved (by the board), we're a go."

Kasper said he felt the Education Fund Board took progressive action to address the district concerns, and he also felt more aware now of the constraints the Fund Board is under.

"On the surface, it looks like a win for everybody, especially the kids," Kasper said.

Meeks said he stood by the decision of the three superintendents to send a letter to the Fund Board last week stating that Steamboat would drop the mentor program if it were funded with money that would otherwise be allocated to the districts. The letter said Hayden and South Routt were considering doing the same.

"When it came out that the commission was suggesting using district allocations to pay for a community group that came in with such a high request … it felt like the community groups had a higher priority than the districts," Meeks said.

Meeks met with Jones and O'Hare from the Fund Board on Monday and said that, next year, districts would be allowed to prioritize which community group and innovation grant requests are most important to them, a step Meeks hopes will prevent future issues with the districts feeling that community groups are being prioritized over district requests.

Petix said that Partners will use the course of events over the past few weeks as a learning experience and an opportunity to improve communication between the organization and local school boards and superintendents.

Petix said she was proud of the organization and overwhelmed with the community support it has received.

“I'm so proud of our organization. I feel like we came together, and we believed in what we were doing,” Petix said. “We kept our focus on serving the kids, and now, everything sounds like it's going to work out."

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