Steamboat Springs School District considers taking over preschool operations |

Steamboat Springs School District considers taking over preschool operations

Teresa Ristow

— Steamboat Springs School District administrators are considering taking over operation of a district preschool that’s currently run by the Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services.

Superintendent Brad Meeks said BOCES plans to charge the district $250,000 during the 2015-16 school year to run the 77-student preschool, and district officials estimate nearly $30,000 could be saved if elementary principals and district administration ran the school instead.

Meeks said district officials plan to meet with BOCES staff Thursday to discuss the logistics of taking over operations, which could happen by this fall.

“We think we could be a little more efficient,” Meeks said.

As the district works on facilities master planning, administrators have discussed incorporating preschools into the elementary schools, and taking over the existing preschool makes sense with that plan, Meeks said.

Having preschool programs at the elementary schools would strengthen the district’s early childhood education efforts, he said.

“We were looking to roll (preschools) into the elementary schools anyway,” Meeks said. “Academically, having the preschool as part of the elementary schools strengthens what we’re trying to do.”

NW BOCES Executive Director Amy Bollinger said she’s discussed the possibility of the district taking over as preschool administrator and said she would work with district staff on a seamless transition if the district does decide to take over operations.

BOCES would still provide the preschool with special education services and support, she said.

The $28,670 the district has estimated it would save by taking over the preschool is one of several budgeting changes presented to the school board and the community during meetings last week.

The district is considering budget changes that could result in a $400,000 deficit for 2015-16, but several of the changes are estimated enhancements that may not become a part of the final budget, according to Finance Director Dale Mellor.

The amount also includes a $66,300 deficit carried over from the current fiscal year.

Potential revenue increases include a forecasted $1.3 million increase in state funding, an increase in funding from the Education Fund Board and the assumed savings from taking over the preschool.

Potential new expenses include a 12 percent increase in health insurance expenses at a cost of $260,660, salaries for additional staff to keep up with increasing enrollment and the cost of election fees for four board members up for re-election in 2015.

Additional enhancements the district is considering in its budget include a part-time French teacher for the middle school, a part-time robotics teacher at the middle school, maintenance on the district’s food van and a part-time communications specialist.

“This is basically a list, we have not evaluated a lot of these things yet, and we have not pared this list down yet,” Mellor told the school board last week.

A full list of the proposed 2015-16 budget changes is available in the board packet for April 6 on the district website.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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