With Buffalo Commons in concert June 5, South Routt endowment fund seeks to boost education funding | SteamboatToday.com

With Buffalo Commons in concert June 5, South Routt endowment fund seeks to boost education funding

Started in 2011, the fund has about $300,000 with a goal of raising $1 million by 2030

In an effort to find more funding sources for education in South Routt County, a fundraiser is coming to Steamboat Springs this weekend with a concert featuring the local band Buffalo Commons.

The performance planned for 1 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at Slopeside Grill near Steamboat Resort’s base will benefit the South Routt Education Endowment Fund. The fund was started in 2011 and currently has around $300,000. The goal is to get it up to a million dollars by 2030.

“It’s invested now,” said Russ Garrity, one of the people who started the fund. “Until we get to that goal, we can’t withdraw any money.”

Similar to a university’s endowment fund, this effort would eventually have a board made up of community members — such as students, faculty and local business owners — that would take applications and decide how to spend the interest the fund earns each year.

This type of funding is especially important for districts like South Routt as they deal with increasingly depressed local property tax funding with Colorado transitioning away from energy generated by fossil fuels.

The district has schools in Oak Creek and Yampa and serves students living in those municipalities, as well as those living in and around Toponas, Phippsberg and Stagecoach. In all, the district encompasses about 500 square miles.

Garrity said he has been involved in multiple efforts to get voters to support increasing local property taxes for South Routt schools. The measures have passed with strong local support, but Garrity said asking taxpayers for more funding isn’t something they can do forever.

“We have a great, great school system, but it’s not an extremely rich community,” Garrity said. “The taxes we pay could use some boosting from an outside source. … We really want to do this outside the tax system.”

There isn’t a specific dollar amount Garrity hopes to raise on Sunday. Tickets for the event are available with prices ranging from $50 to $95. There is also a series of silent auction items already available for bidding that feature several South Routt activities, including dog sledding and horseback riding in the Flat Tops Mountains.

Steamboat-based band Buffalo Commons with headline a benefit concert at Slopeside Grill on Sunday, June 5.
South Routt Education Endowment Fund/Courtesy

The push for more funding comes with Colorado at the bottom of education funding and South Routt close to the bottom of that, said Kate Krautkramer, a retired teacher in the district who also helped start the fund.

“We need to have more equity and provide our kids with the very best we can, however we can,” Kraukramer said.

Peggy Barnes, another retired South Routt teacher who helped start the fund, said she feels like the effort is gaining momentum, and people in other parts of the county are starting to take notice of their work.

She hopes that will help increase the pace of donations and push the fund over the million dollar goal quicker.

“We’ve lost a lot of the coal mine and railroad people that used to be here,” Barnes said. “The tax base is certainly low for our area for supporting our school district. … I don’t want to lose more people. I don’t want to loose more kids. (South Routt education) is too important.”

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