Steamboat Springs School District kicks off budget season with community forum |

Steamboat Springs School District kicks off budget season with community forum

Scott Franz

— Elementary school teachers and administrators in the Steamboat Springs School District on Monday night made it clear that small class size continues to be one of their top budget priorities.

"We really need to think about how we’re addressing not just our class size, but our growing student population in general," Soda Creek Elementary School Principal Michele Miller said as she presented the budget proposals for the elementary schools at a community forum.

If they can be allocated any more funding next school year, the elementary schools are requesting one more full-time Spanish teacher, an additional classroom teacher at each school and an additional interventionist.

Miller said the budget proposals for next school year aim to help the schools get closer to the district’s policy of having classes at the elementary level at a ratio of 20 students to one teacher.

On a night when the budget proposals of seven district programs and buildings were presented to the public, funding for the elementary schools spurred the most feedback.

And public comment centered mostly on the importance of class size.

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Teachers at the schools described how larger classes have a negative impact, a view shared by many parents in the audience.

The discussion comes as the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board prepares Wednesday to start vetting a $1.2 million grant request from the district that would fund several teachers in the district and help maintain current class size ratios.

Some members of the Fund Board recently have questioned the value of such funding.

Superintendent Brad Meeks kicked off Monday’s budget forum by telling the audience there still are many unknowns about the district’s financial picture for next school year.

"It’s a moving target," he said, adding that the district is waiting to see how much it will have to pay in health insurance and how much funding it will receive from the state and the Fund Board.

The forum allowed the public to give feedback on budget proposals from the district’s elementary schools, special education program, English language learners program, gifted and talented program, nursing program, teaching and learning department and the Yampa Valley High School.

The district also discussed one school program that soon could be phased out.

Meeks said because of a very low enrollment for next school year, the district is weighing whether to continue its elementary Montessori program or repurpose the teacher to a regular classroom.

The superintendent plans to meet with parents of the program Thursday to discuss it’s future.

The school district this school year stopped its upper-level Montessori program at the elementary school because of its declining enrollment.

The lower level program that serves first through third grades currently has about 11 students enrolled for next school year.

The district’s budget forums conclude Tuesday night at Steamboat Springs High School with presentations from the secondary schools, the athletics, transportation, maintenance and technology departments, and the district’s administrative office.

The district hopes to ask the Steamboat Springs School Board to approve the budget in June.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

Performance based budgeting

The Steamboat Springs School District uses a budgeting system it calls performance-based budgeting. A committee of parents, teachers and administrators at each school campus develops separate budget packets anticipating different levels of funding.

For next school year, budget proposals were developed at 98 and 100 percent of this school year’s funding level.

Some schools and programs also proposed enhancement packages that could be funded if there are any surplus funds.