Steamboat school district won’t pay BOCES’s increased assessments |

Steamboat school district won’t pay BOCES’s increased assessments

Steamboat schools will pay 2008-09 under-assessments

Jack Weinstein

Editor’s note: This story was corrected from the original version. The vote on funding for bus security cameras was incorrectly reported.

The Steamboat Springs School District will not pay this year for increased assessments from the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Superintendent Shalee Cunningham told the School Board on Monday night.

She said the same recommendation will be made by the superintendents of the five other districts that receive state-mandated special education and other services from BOCES. The group of superintendents and their finance staffs met in Kremmling at the end of last week.

BOCES, which charges each of its member districts for the services it provides, recently adjusted this year’s assessments, asking its six member districts to pay $481,796 more than they were told those services would cost in May when the districts were preparing their budgets for the 2009-10 school year. That includes $234,602 owed by the Steamboat school district.

Cunningham told the Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday that the districts would find ways to pay $317,000 in under-assessments BOCES billed for the 2008-09 school year. Those under-assessments are separate from the increased assessments BOCES is charging for the 2009-10 school year. Steamboat owes $102,790 for the 2008-09 school year, according to BOCES.

“While we are willing to be a part of the solution, we are not willing or able to have increased assessments to pull them out of this financial situation,” Cunningham said.

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Instead of paying for the increased assessments, Cunningham said the superintendents would recommend that BOCES trim its budget. She said part of that would come from $162,000 in federal stimulus funding for special education the districts received from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Ordinarily, the assessments for its services are due to BOCES twice annually, on Oct. 15 and May 1.

Cunningham also said BOCES owed the districts $777,000 in state and federal title funding for services such as preschool, technology and to assist students from low-income families. The funds are typically funneled through BOCES to the districts. But Mellor said he thinks BOCES is using that funding to cover its operational expenses, such as payroll. At the meeting in Kremmling, Cunningham said the districts agreed to support one another to do what was in the best interest of BOCES to make it solvent again while still gathering facts and trying to determine how the organization finds itself in the current mess.

The districts requested bank statements and a line-item budget from BOCES. A BOCES meeting has been scheduled for Monday in Granby.

Steamboat School Board members wondered Monday why it’s taking so long to get information from BOCES and what the oversight of BOCES will be in the future. Cunningham said she didn’t think BOCES had ever before created a line-item budget. And she said the district superintendents will approve future BOCES budgets before they go to the BOCES board.

In other action Monday, the School Board voted 4-1 to approve a district match of $21,350 to fund a surveillance camera system for the district’s buses. The remainder of the $42,700 system would be paid by the Community Oriented Policing Services grant. The district received the $533,000 grant, which required an equal match for projects from the school district, about two years ago.

Board Member Laura Anderson voted against the motion, expressing concern about spending additional district funds.

Transportation Director Ed Dingledine said the system would equip each of the district’s 20 buses with two cameras, one at each end of the bus. The district’s current system includes one camera that can be moved from bus to bus based on need. This is the first time the district will have cameras on each bus. Dingledine said in the past, cameras have assisted the district to identify behavioral problems and curb vandalism on district buses. He said it’s not an end all, be all to incidents on buses but that it should assist bus drivers.

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