Steamboat’s half-cent education sales tax up for renewal
October 17, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The half-cent public education sales tax first approved by Steamboat Springs voters in 1993 is up for renewal on the November ballot. If approved, the tax will be extended until Dec. 31, 2029.
In 2009, the last time the tax was up for renewal, voters approved sharing the funding outside Steamboat, with South Routt and Hayden school districts, as well as the Mountain Village Montessori School.
For the 2018-2019 grant cycle, 79 percent of the approximately $4.1 million of the money raised by the half-cent sales tax was allocated to the Steamboat Springs School District. Hayden received 5 percent, South Routt received 4 percent and Mountain Village received 3 percent.
According to the Steamboat Springs Education Fund, one in every 10 teachers in Steamboat is paid for by the tax.
Due to the statewide "negative factor," which went into effect in 2011, Colorado owes about $7 billion to the state's school districts.
"It gives us the opportunity to add cream to education — not just the basics," said Steamboat Springs School District Board President Joey Andrew.
The funds are used to add technology in the classroom and provide for keeping class sizes smaller, professional development and additional mental health and first aid training, Andrew said.
There are also innovative additions reaching outside the boundaries of the district, Andrew described, incorporating partnerships with community organizations into the curriculum.
The 22-member Steamboat Springs Education Fund volunteer board administers the money, with a mission to "enhance academic accomplishment in Routt County through student-facing investments in staff, facilities, infrastructure, technology and curriculum, made available through out public schools."
On Monday, the Steamboat Springs School District Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution in support of 2B. The only discussion or debate around the issue was ensuring they were within legal bounds to take an official position.
"I think this is huge," Andrew said, after the vote. "Not just for us, but for neighboring districts."
In the Colorado Department of Education's preliminary release of the 2018 district performance framework scores, Steamboat ranked third in the state, and funding from the half-cent sales tax has contributed to district success, Andrew added.
City Councilman Scott Ford pointed to the economic value of the high ranking, especially in when it comes to competing for location-neutral workers.
"Having great schools seals the deal," Ford said.
Residents account for about 60 percent of the money generated by the half-cent sales tax, Ford said.