School Board adopts budget |

School Board adopts budget

District members set aside $290,000 to increase staff salaries

Mike McCollum

Retired teacher and current Steamboat Springs High School basketball coach Kelly Meek speaks in strong support of the school's principal

— The Steamboat Springs School Board decided Monday to increase the amount of money set aside in the district’s 2007-08 budget to raise staff salaries.

“We talked at the last meeting about setting aside $200,000, which is the equivalent of a 1.5 percent, across-the-board increase (for staff salaries),” said Dale Mellor, director of finance for the Steamboat Springs School District. “Since that time, that number has increased, and we (now) have $290,000, which is the equivalent of a 2 percent, across-the-board increase.”

Mellor said that during an accounting conversion from a building-based budget to a program-based budget, duplicate expenditures were discovered, which lowered expenses by $94,000 and freed up funds for teacher and staff salaries.

The School Board voted Monday to set aside the $290,000 in a new budget item, but board members will address how to allocate the money at a later date. Mellor said the board could approve a 1 percent across-the-board salary increase to staff and give the additional 1 percent to the district’s collaborative bargaining team, or CBT, to distribute.

“That way you can get money into people’s pockets right away,” he said.

The School Board approved $20.7 million in expenditures Monday night, which is an increase of about $2.4 million from 2006. As is typical with public school system budgets, salaries and benefits make up the majority of district spending. During the 2007-08 school year, the district anticipates spending nearly $15.8 million on its employees, according to budget sheets provided by Mellor.

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Salary and benefits equal about 79.3 percent of the district’s general fund revenues, plus 100 percent of a property tax increase passed by Steamboat voters in 2006.

Total payroll expenses increased by about $1.7 million from last year, which is partly due to the district increasing salaries by 3.3 percent for certified staff, 4.64 percent for support staff and 3 percent for administrators.

“We are funding programs entirely with property taxes,” said Mellor, who noted school district property taxes are anticipated to increase to $13 million, an increase of $2.2 million – or 19.9 percent – from last year.

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