District requests $2.9 million | SteamboatToday.com

District requests $2.9 million

Fund Board's annual budget process under way

Melinda Mawdsley

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board kicked off its annual budgeting process Wednesday night, when school district leaders asked for $2.9 million.

The requests came from the district’s Leadership Team, which includes Superintendent Donna Howell, the district’s four principals and other central office administrators. The dollar amount of the district’s funding priorities surprised some Fund Board members.

“I think you are asking for a tremendous amount of money,” Fund Board President Robin Crossan told district officials.

The Fund Board is a volunteer group that allocates money from the city’s half-cent sales tax for education. The tax typically generates a little more than $2 million a year, but the tax’s projected revenue for the 2007-08 school fiscal year is $2.7 million.

The Fund Board’s budgeting process kicks off when district officials present their priorities – a wish list of sorts. However, it is up to the Fund Board’s three commissions – Educational Excellence, Technology and Capital – to bring actual funding requests to the Fund Board.

Requests that are approved by the Fund Board are then presented to the Steamboat Springs School Board as “gifts.” The School Board has the final say over whether to accept those gifts.

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“It is a large amount,” Howell acknowledged to Fund Board members about the $2.9 million in priorities. “The message I’ve heard is to bring forward what you need. It is a lot, but we look at the needs.”

Among the priorities is $700,000 to maintain small class sizes and $535,000 to help fund a Gifted and Talented Program, English as a Second Language and the creation of an articulated foreign language program.

The district receives minimal federal funding for those programs for special student populations, but state and federal mandates require the district to offer those services, district officials say.

The Leadership Team also identified several technology-related priorities, including a $110,000 network upgrade and $374,500 for hardware replacement.

All told, the technology priorities from the Leadership Team totaled $974,640. The educational excellence priorities totaled $1.5 million, and the capital needs totaled $380,000, including $300,000 to pay for an approved Steamboat Springs Middle School expansion.