Education Fund Board gives final approval to Partners request | SteamboatToday.com

Education Fund Board gives final approval to Partners request

Teresa Ristow

Brooklyn Coldings plays a game during a workshop run by AmeriCorps school-based mentors in 2011. The Education Fund Board Wednesday approved a special $97,000 grant request to help fund the school-based mentor program for the 2016-17 school year.

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board has unanimously approved a $97,000 grant request for Partners in Routt County, promising to make a good faith effort to ensure the funding wouldn't come from school district allocations.

The board held its 8-0 vote Wednesday during a special meeting called to decide on the grant.

"I'm so happy I could cry," said Michelle Petix, executive director of Partners, after the meeting, which was well-attended by Partners mentors, staff and board members.

Education Fund Board President Sam Jones said after taking a "big picture" look at the fund's budget for the fiscal year, it was revealed that total funds requested and funds available were closer than he had imagined.

Jones said he also predicted tax revenue received in the coming months is likely to generate additional increases in available money for the Education Fund.

With that information in mind, the board voted to support Partners’ request, with the caveat that it would dip into its reserves — known as the unallocated cashflow cushion — if necessary.

Recommended Stories For You

The current cashflow cushion is budgeted to be $450,000 for the upcoming year, an amount that helps the Education Fund balance fluctuating tax revenue and grant payments throughout a given year.

Jones acknowledged the districts still have a right to refuse the Partners program, which would lead to Partners rescinding the gift to the fund.

Petix said she was cautiously optimistic about what would happen next.

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks said he had already planned a meeting with the district's administrative team for Thursday morning, adding that he and the other administrators would discuss the Education Fund Board's decision then.

He said that, by sometime Thursday, the district would announce a final decision on whether they would accept the school-based mentor program into district schools next year.

"I appreciated the Fund Board trying to work hard not to reduce the school district's allocation," Meeks said. "It seems like we are in a better position than we were a week ago."

Superintendents from Hayden and South Routt also attended Wednesday's special meeting, and South Routt Superintendent Darci Mohr said the two rural districts were still building budgets and are unsure of whether the program, which includes host site fees paid by each district, would be accepted into their districts next year.

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