Education Fund will buy extra teacher, French instruction and portion of all-day kindergarten |

Education Fund will buy extra teacher, French instruction and portion of all-day kindergarten

Strawberry Park Elementary students wave from a school bus in 2013. The Education Fund Board Wednesday voted to fund an additional fourth-grade teacher at the school for 2016-17 to help combat larger than normal projected class sizes.

— The Steamboat Springs Education Fund will cover the cost of an extra fourth-grade teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary and an additional section of middle school French. It will also contribute $33,500 to help fund all-day kindergarten.

The Education Fund Board met Wednesday to discuss whether to spend an additional $115,000 in surplus tax revenue realized since setting the fund’s annual budget in February.

The fund first discussed in May an $81,000 surplus, which has grown during the past month.

The board voted 5-1 to allocate $75,000 to the Steamboat Springs School District to hire a fourth-grade teacher for next school year, specifically at Strawberry Park Elementary, where administrators have said class sizes would otherwise be larger than normal.

Prior to adding a teacher, the school was expecting to have four sections of fourth grade, each with 26 or 27 students.

“Twenty-seven — it’s just not OK,” said Amy Satkiewicz, the parent of an incoming fourth-grade student. “It’s not OK for our kids, and it’s not OK for our teachers.”

Satkiewicz told the board prior to the vote that allowing a class of 26 or 27 next year would set a precedent that larger class sizes are acceptable.

“This tax was passed for class size and technology,” Satkiewicz. “I really feel our community has made a statement.”

The board also voted to allocate $7,500 to fund an additional section of middle-school French, which had solicited significantly more interest from incoming sixth-graders than during the current year.

The district had budgeted one section of sixth-grade French, which accommodates a maximum of 30 students, but 71 incoming sixth-grade students had requested French instruction.

The board held lengthy discussion on how it might fund or help fund the cost of all-day kindergarten.

Board member Kristi Brown tried to convince the board to support dipping into reserves and spending $120,000 to fully fund the remaining costs of all-day kindergarten, which is currently set to cost families $750 per student next year.

“The greatest learning happens between 0 and 5,” Brown said. “The kids who are falling behind are the families that can’t afford it. I think this is important.”

Brown’s motion failed 2-4.

The board later agreed on a 3-2 vote to spend the remaining surplus, $33,500, on kindergarten, preferably on need-based scholarships, but did not give specific instructions for how the scholarships might be awarded.

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

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