Staff, computer cash OK’d |

Staff, computer cash OK’d

Mike Lawrence

— Thirteen turned out to be a lucky number for the city’s Education Fund Board on Wednesday night.

Not a single “no” vote was cast as Fund Board members gave final approval to 13 funding requests from the board’s Educational Excellence and Technology commissions. The requests are for the 2006-07 school year and include funding for 20 teachers, as many as 200 new computers, increased counselor staffing, software upgrades and the development of several academic and vocational programs.

The Fund Board, which gets revenue from a voter-approved half-cent sales tax, will present the requests as gifts to the Steamboat Springs School Board. The School Board likely will decide whether to accept the gifts at its April 17 meeting.

At least one of the items is not a lock for School Board acceptance.

The request to fund two new teachers for gifted and talented students stirred debate among School Board members last month. Board member John DeVincentis, former principal of Strawberry Park Elementary School, questioned whether two full-time teachers — who would split their time between two schools each — would be enough to fully develop and implement programming for gifted students and high-ability learners.

Requirements mandated by the Colorado Department of Education state that all Colorado school districts must have a process to identify gifted and talented students in place by June and have educational programming for those students prepared by August 2007.

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On Wednesday night, School Board and Fund Board member Denise Connelly said part of the School Board’s concern is whether “in the final analysis, more burden will fall on the classroom teacher” if the $100,000 gift is accepted.

“I don’t understand that logic,” replied Fund Board member Michael Loomis. “How would you suggest that you free up teachers in the classroom if you don’t put more personnel in the schools?”

The city’s Education Fund Board gave final approval to the 2006-07 funding requests from two of its commissions Wednesday night.

Education ExcellenceTotal request: $1,252,600Small class size (salaries and benefits for about 14 teachers): $700,000English as a Second Language program (two teachers and two aides): $150,000Staff training and curriculum implementation: $117,600Articulated Foreign Language Program (two teachers and materials): $110,000Gifted and Talented Program (two teachers): $100,000 Counselor/social worker (one additional, part-time position at each of the two elementary schools and Steamboat Springs Middle School): $75,000

TechnologyTotal request: $659,540Staffing (salaries and benefits for the district technology director, two computer specialists and two data support specialists): $362,040Computer and hardware replacement: $230,000Software upgrades: $25,000Vocational program development: $15,000Curriculum software: $15,000Network upgrade: $7,500Accelerated reader: $5,000