Small classes Fund Board priority |

Small classes Fund Board priority

Educational Excellence wants $900,000 to fund small class size

In other Fund Board action

The board:

- Approved a gift of $25,000 to the Steamboat Springs School Board for the funding of half of a teacher's pay to offset the district's cost of adding an additional eighth-grade teacher in August for small class size.

- Heard public comment from Soroco Secondary Principal James Chamberlin on behalf of the South Routt and Hayden School districts about their collective interest in the Fund Board process and being included in the future.

- Approved first reading of spending $20,000 on a Citrix Pilot test, which was money rescinded from a previous Technology Commission expenditure.

- Heard Peter Remy's update on the Technology Commission. The commission has three new members but needs one more.

- Heard Sue MacCarthy's update on the Educational Excellence Commission. The commission has one opening.

- Approved the allocation of $15,000 from long-term reserve to pay for a survey to gauge public opinion of renewal of a half-cent sales tax.

— Maintaining small class size is a priority for the Education Fund Board, which is why the Educational Excellence Commission has asked for a substantial amount of money to support small class size next year.

Educational Excellence, which is the branch of the Fund Board that deals with educational issues, requested $900,000 to fund small class size during the first reading of its funding requests to the Fund Board on Monday.

“The value of the majority of the people on Ed. Ex. is that a higher percentage of our money should go to funding small class size,” said Sue MacCarthy, Educational Excellence and Fund Board member.

Of the $900,000 request, $800,000 would specifically pay for teachers who support small class sizes. The additional $100,000 would be placed in an instructional staff reserve to pay for additional teachers if needed, according to Educational Excellence’s presentation Monday.

The Fund Board uses a first reading for funding requests to hear the wants of its three commissions – Educational Excellence, Technology and Capital. Fund Board members then direct commission members to answer their questions or address their concerns before each commission’s final presentation.

The Fund Board will approve its budget in April.

The Fund Board, which receives money through a voter-approved half-cent sales tax, then gifts money to the Steamboat Springs School Board, which approves or denies Fund Board gifts.

Traditionally, Educational Excellence requests the most funding from the Fund Board because voters have identified small class size as the most important use of the half-cent sales tax money.

“If that’s what we are here for, that’s what we should be paying for,” Fund Board member Tom Ptach said.

But small class size isn’t the only item Educational Excellence has requested funding for next school year.

The commission made the following requests during Mon-day’s first reading: $225,000 for the Gifted and Talented program, $160,000 for the English as a Second Language program, $150,000 for the articulated foreign language program, $75,000 for counselors, $64,000 for staff development, $20,000 for a kindergarten-through-eighth grade reading pilot program, $7,000 for an orchestra program and $1,800 for the Make A Difference program for staff.

Fund Board members wanted evaluations of many programs before Educational Excellence’s second reading for a better sense of their value.

For example, questions in the community have been raised about the strength of the articulated foreign language program and whether it should be extended to the lower primary levels or whether the requirement of foreign language at the middle school is necessary.

“I’d like to know what programs we gave up to do this program,” Fund Board President Robin Crossan said.

The Fund Board’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. March 7 at the George P. Sauer Human Services Center when the Technology Commission will present its initial funding requests.

– To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail

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