Education sales tax funds $3.8 million in grants for Routt County schools | SteamboatToday.com

Education sales tax funds $3.8 million in grants for Routt County schools

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board approved Wednesday, May 1, more than $3.8 million to be spent on public education in Routt County thanks to the half-cent sales tax voters renewed in November for an additional 10 years.

Since 1993, the tax has awarded more than $65 million directly to K-12 public education in Routt County to “enhance academic accomplishment … through student-facing investments in staff, facilities, infrastructure, technology and curriculum.”

Rural school districts like Hayden and South Routt particularly depend on the half-cent tax.

“Without the allocation from the Education Fund Board, we would need to cut and limit our offerings to students,” Hayden School District Superintendent Christy Sinner said. “The voters have continued to prioritize the need of educating our students by passing the half-cent sales and use tax.”

Hayden schools received $196,000 for the 2019-20 school year, with much of the grant money supporting technology in the schools. Hayden educates about 400 K-12 students.

Soroco School District, which received $159,260, will use its funding for technology, a math teacher and an instructional coach, among other needs.

“The resulting grants bring services to our district not always found in small, rural districts,” Soroco Superintendent Rim Watson said. “We pledge to maximize their use through student-facing programs.” 

Steamboat Springs School District will receive $3.06 million in grants that will fund mostly teachers, technology and programs for its 2,628 students.   

Mountain Village Montessori School, a public charter school with 130 students in K-6, received $147,574, much of which will go to teaching staff.  Like public schools, charter schools receive per pupil money from the state, but Head of School Michael Girodo said the half-cent tax grants are the only “local” funding the school receives. 

“The grants are essential to our operation. It helps support staffing … a literacy specialist, Spanish and an instructional coach,” Girodo said.

He is especially excited about funding for a grant writer this year.

“We hope we can leverage this like the school districts did with their grant writer,” Girodo said.

In fact, the Education Fund Board once again approved $80,000 for the grant writer for Steamboat, Hayden and Soroco school districts. According to the board, the grant writer secured $2 million in grants for the 2017-18 school year.

Grants worth $153,000 also were awarded to nonprofit community groups that partner with public schools, including Yampatika, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Partners in Routt County, Integrated Community, Yampa Valley Autism Program, Junior Achievement, Opera in the Schools and Northwest Colorado Health.

The nonprofit Education Fund Board, which manages the money, is made up of 11 volunteer community members. A grant commission of another 11 volunteers studies the grant applications before approval.

Find more information about how funds have been spent throughout the years at steamboateducationfund.org. Community members who are interested in getting involved in the process can fill out an application online by clicking “Get Involved.”

Frances Hohl is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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