Steamboat’s half-cent sales tax forecast: $3.3M | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s half-cent sales tax forecast: $3.3M

Teresa Ristow

Fifth-grader Orion Gibbs uses the climbing wall at Strawberry Park Elementary in April.

— Steamboat Springs School District administrators are putting the finishing touches on their 2017 grant requests for Education Fund dollars.

December forecasts from the Education Fund Board predict the city’s half-cent sales tax will generate about $3.3 million for the upcoming year’s grant cycle, with money shared between the Steamboat, Hayden and South Routt school districts, community groups and innovation grants.

Superintendent Brad Meeks presented a draft of the district's request to the school board Monday and said the district is hopeful it will receive about $2.7 million of the funds collected through the city's half-cent sales tax for education.

“It’s a couple hundred thousand more than we received last year,” Meeks said.

The district will likely request closer to $3 million in grants, which will allow for flexibility if the Education Fund receives more money than is currently forecast.

The Education Fund Board uses a percentage model as a rough guideline to disperse the funds, with 80 percent for the Steamboat Springs School District, 5 percent each for Hayden and South Routt school districts, 5 percent for community groups and innovation grants and 5 percent for collaborative grants and administrative costs.

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"We'll look at all the grant requests, and each will be rewarded based on its merit in meeting our mission and our mandate from taxpayers," Education Fund Board President Sam Jones said.

Districts have been asked to submit requests for about 4 to 5 percent above their forecasted percentage allocation, giving the Education Fund Board and its Grant Commission some choice if revenues come in higher than expected.

Meeks explained Monday that the bulk of the district's 2017 request would be the same as the 2016 request.

The district will likely ask for nearly $1.3 million to pay the salaries of the equivalent of 17 full-time teachers to keep class sizes low, including an additional fourth grade teacher at Strawberry Park Elementary, something the Education Fund Board chose to pay for with extra revenue late in last year’s grant cycle.

The district will no longer need any funding for all-day kindergarten, eliminating $33,000 that was given by the board for that purpose in the spring.

Funding to help with English language learner program, gifted and talented program and adaptive PE will remain the same, and the district will ask for $8,000 toward adding a section of middle school French, something also granted by the Education Fund Board late in last year's grant cycle.

The district has about $2.47 million of its request identified, and administrators sought board feedback Monday on how to prioritize some ideas for what new things to ask for.

The top priority identified by the district's administration team was to spend $200,000 on curriculum and materials. Other top priorities were $100,000 for mental health services if those funds aren't again provided by Yampa Valley Medical Center; $50,000 to begin upgrading district security cameras; $10,000 toward middle school STEM; $75,000 for a 15-person activity bus; $25,000 for music equipment; and $50,000 toward professional development.

Board members Roger Good and Joey Andrew expressed support Monday for updating the cameras.

“I’d certainly like to see an upgrade on cameras and broader coverage,” Good said.

Meeks said administrators would work on finalizing the district's request after winter break.

School district, innovation and community group grant requests are all due Jan. 16, 2017, and will be awarded in April or May for use during the 2017-18 school year.

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

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