Steamboat Springs More than $3.4 million in half-cent sales tax revenue was tentatively awarded Wednesday to Routt County school districts and school programs.
Among the largest awards was nearly $1.3 million to the Steamboat Springs School District to fund the salaries of 17 teachers in an ongoing effort to keep district class sizes small, a selling point for voters who approved the tax most recently in 2008.
Another large grant for Steamboat was approximately $750,000 for technology, including hardware, software, network costs and staff.
Overall, the Steamboat Springs School District was tentatively awarded nearly $2.8 million, while the Hayden and South Routt school districts will receive about $160,000 to $170,000. Local community groups, including Integrated Community, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and Partners in Routt County, also were awarded more than $120,000.
Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks said after the meeting that he felt this year’s process went more smoothly than last year, and that an increase in tax revenue overall allowed more flexibility for the Education Fund.
Mountain Village Montessori Charter School advocates in the room Wednesday watched as the majority of requests from Steamboat and Hayden school districts and all from South Routt were approved, while only $70,000, about a third of the Montessori’s $208,000 request, was approved.
The Montessori school, which opened fall 2016, is a new development for the Education Fund stewards, who only last year outlined percentage guidelines to award to Steamboat (80 percent), and Hayden and South Routt (5 percent each) to help guide the grant award process.
Mountain Village Montessori Charter School director Michael Hayes said after Wednesday’s meeting that the school was fortunate to receive the $70,000 ultimately granted by the commission, despite most of the school’s request being denied.
“We’re all incredibly fortunate to have this resource,” Hayes said. “I think tonight we took a small step toward equity, and we’ve got a ways to go.”
The Montessori school was tentatively awarded $10,000 toward the salary of an art coordinator and $30,000 each toward the salaries of a literacy coach/interventionist and an English language learner and Spanish teacher.
"Our kids are receiving less per child,” Hayes said. “But we’re also the new kid on the block, so the position we’re in is not particularly surprising.”
Grant Commission Chair Stuart Handloff said after Wednesday’s meeting there were lots of opinions among commissioners about whether to fund and how much to fund the Montessori school.
Handloff said he believed the school’s requests for all of the funding for four positions and a $25,000 request for Yampatika programming were too grand considering the size of the school, which has 101 kindergarten through fifth grade students this year.
The funding amounts are subject to final approval by the Education Fund Board, which meets next May 3.
A full list of the grants requested this year is available at steamboateducationfund.org.
To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow