Montessori charter school eligible for Steamboat’s half-cent sales tax | SteamboatToday.com

Montessori charter school eligible for Steamboat’s half-cent sales tax

— The majority of Education Fund Board members Wednesday agreed that Mountain Village Montessori Charter School is eligible to receive funds from the city's half-cent sales tax.

The group voted 8-1 that because of the fact that the Montessori school is a public school in Routt County, it is eligible for the funding based on 2009 ballot language supported by county voters regarding the half-cent tax.

Board president Sam Jones said he felt it was important for the board to formally move on whether it believed the Montessori school was eligible, considering the school could be a "new mouth to feed," and board members had questioned the charter school's eligibility.

"I'd like to make it formal," Jones said.

Before the vote, Mountain Village Montessori Charter School governing board chair and founder Kristen Rockford and board member Emily Barnhart answered Education Fund Board members’ questions about how the school functions and is funded.

Rockford said the school is subject to all of the same regulations as another public school, yet the Montessori school doesn't benefit from any local property taxes, including the recent kindergarten funding mill levy passed by the Steamboat Springs School District.

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"Charter schools essentially have to do more with less," Rockford said. "We have to be very creative, and we have to be very innovative about how we run our facility."

Rockford pointed out that the Montessori school also has to pay rent for its facility, while other local public schools do not.

While the board came to an agreement that the Montessori school is eligible for grants, it doesn't necessarily mean the school would receive any funding this year.

The Montessori school's grant applications will be considered by the Education Fund's grant commission along with district, community group and innovation grants this spring, and both the commission and board will likely discuss how to fund the grants if the commission believes they have merit.

Rockford said earlier this week that the school intended to ask for funding for its outdoor education program and money towards the salary of an instructional coach for teachers.

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