Fund Board ready to budget |

Fund Board ready to budget

Half-cent sales tax generates money

— The Education Fund Board is prepared to set its 2003-04 budget tonight.

The 13-member board allocates funds generated by the city’s half-cent sales tax.

A revised budget allocation process is in place this year, whereby each Fund Board member will be asked to submit a form detailing how much money he or she believes should be given to each of the Fund Board’s three commissions.

Each member also will be asked for his or her opinion on how much money the Fund Board should keep in reserves.

Revenue from last year’s half-cent sales tax is projected to be about $1.9 million.

Funding requests from the Capital Commission, the Educational Excellence Commission and the Technology Commission total about $2.15 million, not including a $511,000 loan request by the Capital Commission.

Rather than vote to approve individual funding requests from each commission, the Fund Board will vote to allocate lump sums of money to the commissions, Fund Board President Jim Gill said.

“We’re not going item by item,” Gill said.

However, commissions must spend money allocated to them according to their requests, meaning that a commission cannot use money for a request not made to the Fund Board.

At last week’s Fund Board meeting, Gill said he imagined that allocating money to the Capital Commission and Technology Commission should be fairly easy, while discussion over Educational Excellence Commission funding requests and how much money should be left in Fund Board reserves may take more time.

The Capital Commission has requested $400,000 from the Fund Board to begin a Steamboat Springs Middle School expansion project.

If approved, the project, which will cost approximately $1.6 million, also will be funded from $625,000 of the $643,000 in already available Capital Commission funds and a $511,000 loan secured by the Fund Board to be paid off over the next two Fund Board budget cycles.

The expansion project is the only funding request from the Capital Commission.

The Technology Commission requests total $685,500.

The bulk of that is a $312,500 staff request that would pay the salaries of the school district’s director of technology, two computer support specialists and four half-time teacher trainers and technology coordinators.

The Educational Excellence Commission requested $1.06 million to fund content standards, small class size, a two-teacher reserve, a grant writer and an elementary Spanish program.

Members of the Educational Excellence Commission and the Fund Board have discussed in detail the small class size issue and the two-teacher reserve system at recent Fund Board meetings. Similar discussions are likely to take place tonight before the preliminary budget is set.

The Educational Excellence Commission has not recommended funding pay for performance, a compensation system by which teachers and staff earn yearly bonuses dependent upon Colorado Student Assessment Program test scores and how well schools address the virtues, success and self-understanding goals spelled out in school board policy.

Gill has said funds for pay for performance could be budgeted despite the absence of an Educational Excellence Commission request.

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