Education Fund Board will consider Partners request in March
February 3, 2016
Steamboat Springs — Partners in Routt County leaders must wait until March to learn whether the AmeriCorps school-based mentor program will continue during the 2016-17 school year.
The Steamboat Education Fund's board discussed Partners' request of $119,000 Wednesday, ultimately deciding to table discussion on how the grant might be funded until its next meeting, March 2.
Partners turned to the Education Fund's grant commission in January to ask for funding to help save the program, which places 11 mentors in 10 Routt County public schools to provide targeted help with at-risk students.
Partners lost a large government grant it relied on in the past and is now in jeopardy of having to break a contract with AmeriCorp and lose the program for 2016-17.
The board and grant commission agreed the Partners program was important and a worthwhile use of funding, but board members were unsure how to fund the out-of-cycle request.
The board has already allocated funds to the grant commission for community group and innovation grants, with the remaining 90 percent of the general fund is earmarked for Routt County school districts.
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"The pie is all split up, so the question is, whose piece of the pie are we going to reduce?" asked Kristin Wilson, board member. "In my mind, the biggest question is not whether it's a worthwhile program or whether it should be funded — it's where do we find the money?"
Board President Sam Jones brought up a handful of possibilities, including splitting the cost of funding between reserves, district money and a portion of funding that was allocated for community groups and left unspent last month. He also proposed taking a year off of awarding innovation grants to help fund the Partners’ request.
The board agreed to come to a resolution on the request during its next meeting.
The board also discussed the possibility of funding two grant requests from the Mountain Village Montessori Charter School, which is opening this fall.
The charter school, which is a public school operated under the Colorado Charter School Institute, submitted two grant requests: one to pay for a playground and a second to use toward the salary of a business manager.
The board determined the charter school had the right to apply for the funding, and said they would consider the grant requests among other district requests this spring.
Board members said that, in the future, the board may consider setting a guideline for what percentage of district funds are allocated for the Montessori school.