Fund Board’s reach expands |

Fund Board’s reach expands

Hayden, South Routt join request process for education dollars

Zach Fridell

— Superintendents for the Hayden and South Routt school districts said they will be requesting between $100,000 and $200,000 each from the Education Fund Board during the first year they are able to receive money from the body.

South Routt School District Superintendent Scott Mader and Hayden School District Superintendent Greg Rockhold each presented a rough outline of their district’s needs to the Fund Board on Wednesday. Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Shalee Cunningham also presented to the Fund Board, which administers Steamboat Springs’ half-cent sales tax for education. Representatives from all three districts will next present their requests to the Fund Board’s three commissions: capital, educational excellence and technology.

Cunningham’s presentation, with requests totaling $3.15 million, will be the groundwork for the Fund Board’s upcoming budget year. But for the first time, money from the sales tax will be shared between the three districts since the passage of Referendum 2B by city voters in November.

“It’s a whole new world, as far as the funding,” Fund Board member and Steamboat Springs School Board Vice President Denise Connelly said.

Fund Board President Tom Ptach said the interests of the Steamboat Springs School District should be put first.

“I personally made this commitment to the (Steamboat Springs) City Council, and I’m going to stick to this commitment – that we’re not going to be shortchanging the Steamboat Springs School District,” he said, adding that a small amount of money could go a long way in the other districts.

Even so, after Cunningham presented the needs of the Steamboat schools, including $180,000 for a three-part renovation of the Steamboat Springs High School theater, Ptach looked for ways to reduce the amount needed.

A suggestion was to turn to the community for partial funding, as the district did for new, universal playgrounds at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek elementary schools and for the artificial turf field at Steamboat Springs High School.

“If we can challenge the theater community (to raise) $90,000, that could go a really long way in the other school districts,” Ptach said.

Ptach, whose term was scheduled to end with the election of new officers at Wednesday’s meeting, moved to change the officer nomination timing to coincide with the financial year. The motion passed, and the Fund Board will elect new officers in June.

Of Cunningham’s other requests, the largest amount – $800,000 – would be used for continued efforts to keep class sizes small.

Cunningham said she met with all staff members at each school to discuss what priorities were highest for teachers. The decision was made to completely restart the prioritization and budgeting process, but many items the Fund Board has financed in previous years again proved to be important.

“Because on face value this appears to be a rollover budget, it is apparent to me that everything EFB has funded before is important to our staff,” she said. “I have to say class size came to the top of the list at every single school.”

Other requests included $200,000 for new carpeting in Strawberry Park Elementary School, a total of $1.02 million for technology equipment and staff, $50,000 for a boiler for a snowmelt system at Strawberry Park and $80,000 for the continuation of the grant writer position.

Other districts

Mader listed the paving of a Yampa Valley Elementary School parking lot and the cleaning of the Soroco High School gym as top capital improvements needed in South Routt. While Soroco High School recently switched from a coal heating system to geothermal and biomass heat, Mader said the gym remains covered in a layer of soot.

Mader said an update to computer labs and school servers also is needed, along with a computer program to track student scores. Mader added that he hopes to better align the district’s curriculum with the help of a curriculum coordinator position financed by the Fund Board.

Rockhold had an ambitious list of needs for Hayden schools, including a new bus barn, a new roof at Hayden High School, new desks and chairs for the schools, reconfiguring the high school offices and a host of other projects throughout the district.

He said at the end of his presentation that he did not expect the Fund Board to take on all of the projects, but he wanted to give an overview of need in the district.

“It would be crass of me to think the Fund Board would :” he started, before Ptach stepped in.

“It’s great hearing your list,” Ptach said.

The three districts will begin presentations to the commissions tonight, with the educational excellence commission. Any requests approved by the commissions then are brought before the Fund Board for approval.

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