Education Fund Board to make final decision on Partners grant Wednesday | SteamboatToday.com

Education Fund Board to make final decision on Partners grant Wednesday

Teresa Ristow

Soroco Middle School student Megan Kelliher works on a project organized by Partners in Routt County school-based mentors in 2012. Whether the school-based mentor program will continue during the 2016-17 school year is still unclear.

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board is expected Wednesday night to reach a decision on whether to fund a contentious grant request from Partners in Routt County.

The Education Fund's grant commission in February unanimously approved $97,000 to fund the AmeriCorps school-based mentor program for the 2016-17 school year, but how to fund the unusually large request and final approval is up the board.

Local school districts last week wrote a letter to the board expressing concerns about how the board and grant commission were overseeing the fund and stating that the districts would not allow the Partners program back into their schools if it were funded using money that might otherwise be allocated to the school districts.

Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks told the Board of Education Monday night that he has since met with Education Fund Board President Sam Jones and member Jay O’Hare, and Meeks was hopeful some of the issues presented in the letter could be resolved, although he said he was still unsure where the fund board might land on the Partners request.

"I think there's a solution in there somewhere moving forward," Meeks said.

Partners Executive Director Michelle Petix also spoke to the school board Monday, sharing her concerns about the lack of communication the school district displayed through the grant-seeking process.

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"I'm sadly disappointed in how this process has worked," Petix said. "I feel that Partners has been thrown under the proverbial school bus."

Petix said the district engaged in a decided lack of communication and lack of collaboration with Partners and allowed it to be implied that the organization went behind the district's back in seeking funding from the Education Fund.

"We had no indication that this (grant request) would not be supported," Petix said. "It's troubling to me. A phone call, an email — someone couldn't reach out and have this discussion."

Petix said she had her first direct communication with the district Monday through a meeting with Board of Education President Margie Huron.

"I hope moving forward we do things differently," Petix said.

The board held a brief discussion about the grant request, but board members didn't express a stance on the Partners request or the district’s decision to send the letter.

Board member Roger Good said that from an investment standpoint, he would be cautious to increase funding to an entity so significantly unless he were guaranteed a proportionate increase in the value of the program.

"Barring that I think you need to have a serious discussion," Good said.

The Education Fund Board's special meeting begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the school district office board room, 325 Seventh St.

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

If you go:

What: Education Fund Board special meeting

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 9

Where: District office board room, 325 Seventh St.