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