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Fund Board wants to involve public

Brent Boyer

Education Fund Board President Jim Gill knows how confusing the group’s budgeting process can appear to those unfamiliar with it.

“The first couple of times you try to understand it can be frustrating,” Gill said Wednesday after the Fund Board’s monthly meeting.

Gill and other members of the board and the Steamboat Springs School District hope public attendance at a January Fund Board meeting will shed some light on the intricacies of the group’s months-long budgeting cycle.

“This will allow the public to see how priorities are set and how money is allocated,” Gill said. “That’s really the goal.”

All meetings of the Fund Board and its three commissions — technology, capital and educational excellence — are open to the public, though community members rarely attend.

The Fund Board allocates money generated from the city’s half-cent sales tax for school district programs and projects. Taxpayers approved the tax on three separate occasions.

Members of the Fund Board and some district officials want to present the public with information about the Fund Board, including how its revenue has been spent in the past, what its priorities are and how community members can be involved in the budgeting process at a Jan. 7 meeting possibly to be held in Centennial Hall.

“We need the public’s support, and we want them to understand the process,” Gill said.

Every year the Fund Board is responsible for allocating about $2 million toward school projects. Recent expenditures have funded projects such as the middle school expansion and the hiring of personnel to smaller class-sizes.

Changes in the Fund Board’s bylaws and the addition of a third commission have altered the process by which tax revenue is allocated to specific projects, but members of the public always have been permitted to approach the commissions with ideas or requests for funding. Last year, a request from a group of parents resulted in several thousand dollars reserved for a Spanish program at both district elementary schools.

In other Fund Board news, a motion to provide the district with an additional $12,348.75 to cover the remaining cost of pay-for-performance awards for district staff for the 2002-03 school year passed by a 5-2 vote.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com


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