School Board forms wish list
Prioritization of sales tax leaves some requests in the cold
A textbook budget didn’t make the cut this year. Neither did science labs or extra time for teacher planning. Kitchen equipment, furniture and carpet also went by the wayside as the Steamboat Springs School District prioritized what budget items to request from the Education Fund Board for the 2009-10 budget.
As Superintendent Shalee Cunningham and other district officials made a preliminary list of what items should be requested from the half-cent sales tax fund, several popular items were pushed off the list as programs judged more important edged ahead.
Each year, the district creates a list of requests to take to the Fund Board’s commissions. This year, the budget process, and a presentation by the district, will take place Dec. 10 as the Fund Board begins to budget for the next school year.
“We have been working as a staff in the school district for the past six weeks to two months better understanding what the EFB has been funding and what we want to change,” Cunningham told the Steamboat Springs School Board during a meeting Monday.
An extra half-time maintenance position requested by Facilities Director Rick Denney did not make the list. Neither did a replacement for old, orange carpeting in Steamboat Springs Middle School.
Some programs simply were too expensive to fund in one year, Cunningham said, such as a revamp of a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning unit at the middle school. Instead of the whole amount, the district will request a preliminary design grant of $50,000, a fraction of what the final project will cost.
Other excluded programs, including Spanish for kindergarten to second grade, have strong public support but must be put off for another year.
“The (kindergarten to second grade) Spanish has come up consistently in the past,” said School Board Vice President Denise Connelly. “I know that it’s hard, that the money just doesn’t go that far but : this is an issue that I think is very important to the community at large.”
The preliminary list of requests from the district totals $3.1 million dollars, down from $4.4 million approved last year. The decrease results from the absence of several large capital requests – the middle school addition and money toward the new Soda Creek Elementary School.
District Technology Director Tim Miles said he is not worried about many of his programs even though they did not make the list of requests. Items such as SMART Board interactive white boards and a mobile computer cart for Steamboat Springs High School may be completed without Fund Board assistance, Miles said.
“They won’t be active projects on the list, which means we’ll see what we can do,” he said. “When the year gets started, we’ll see how the cookie crumbles as far as existing projects, and if there’s money we can glean from some of them because they’re less expensive than we thought or they are more successful.”
Miles said several of the projects he has implemented during the past years, such as using computer terminals instead of full computers in classrooms, also will help save the district money.
Requests to the Education Fund Board go through one of its commissions – capital, educational excellence and technology – before it reaches the full Fund Board.
In November, Steamboat Springs voters renewed the tax and voted to share the funds with the neighboring school districts of South Routt and Hayden. Although those districts eventually will be able to request money from the Fund Board, a system for a fund request presentation is not in place, said Fund Board President Tom Ptach.
“There has been nothing set up, there’s nothing in place to do that process,” he said. “As we move forward in future years, there will probably be a similar presentation made by the other school districts.”
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