School Board renews charter contract | SteamboatToday.com

School Board renews charter contract

Jack Weinstein

— The Steamboat Springs School Board unanimously approved a five-year contract extension with the North Routt Community Charter School on Monday. The 5-0 vote came after a discussion about the school district's liability should the charter school go into default.

Board member Laura Ander­son asked what the district's liability would be if the charter school would no longer be able to provide services to students. Anderson said she had heard the charter school's finances were "shaky."

Charter School Director Colleen Poole said the Clark school's 2009-10 budget projected net income for the first time in the school's nine-year history.

The school is in the middle of a campaign to raise $1.7 million toward the construction of a new $4.8 million facility.

Because the charter school technically is part of the Steamboat Springs School District, the money it receives through the state's per-pupil formula is funneled through the district's central office. Any other state or federal funds the charter school receives also are funneled through the district.

Superintendent Shalee Cunn­ingham said according to state statutes the district would be responsible for the charter school's 66 students if it went into default. Or the district could take over the charter school's facilities, she said.

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Anderson asked whether the district would be responsible for any debt incurred by the charter school during the financing and construction of the new facility.

According to the contract between the district and the charter school, "in no event will the district, board members, district officers, employees or agents be responsible or liable for the debts, acts or omissions of the (charter school), its officers, employees or agents."

Cunningham added that because the charter school received a $3.1 million Building Excellent Schools Today grant by the Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board, which required a 35 percent up-front match, the charter school wouldn't incur any debt on the project.

Poole said the charter school had to prove by Dec. 31, 2009, that it had the remaining $1.7 million for the new facility that will accommodate 90 to 100 students. She said it has received a $500,000 Department of Local Affairs grant. Poole said the charter school also secured a $1.2 million line of credit for the remainder.

She added that the charter school has received $188,000 in contributions. Its parents have raised another $70,000 toward a $100,000 goal. And the charter school has $400,000 in grants and other contributions pending.

Poole said the charter school plans to break ground on the more than 12,000-square-foot facility in April.

Also at Monday’s School Board meeting

■ Board members voted 5-0 to adopt the district’s 2009-10 budget. The state mandates that it be approved by Jan. 31.

The budget includes a more than $22 million general fund. With other district funds, including preschool, special revenue (capital reserve and governmental designated-purpose grants), bond redemption, building and food service, the district’s total appropriation in 2009-10 is $30.8 million.

■ Board members voted 5-0 to approve the dissolution of the Intergovernmental Agreement with the city of Steamboat Springs to remit revenue from the half-cent sales tax for education.

School Board President Robin Crossan said the agreement was dissolved to further separate the Education Fund Board, which decides how the funds will be distributed, from the Steamboat Springs, Hayden and South Routt school districts.

An Intergovernmental Agreement between the city of Steamboat Springs and the Fund Board was signed by both entities in December.

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