Wednesday, March 17, 2004
As an officer of the Education Fund Board, Jerry Kozatch likes to think of himself as an important member of the volunteer nonprofit group that allocates revenue from the city's half-cent sales tax for education.
But like several other Fund Board members, Kozatch questioned his role in the 13-member group after he said he was left out of the loop during strategic discussions held last week in the wake of proposed legislation that would ban the city's half-cent sales tax.
"If we're expected to come here and go through these meetings month after month and year after year, to be told (about the proposed legislation and the strategy to fight it) after the fact" is upsetting, Kozatch told Fund Board members during Wednesday's meeting.
Fund Board Vice President Carol Comeau shared some of Kozatch's feelings.
"It does sort of feel like we're not acting as a board always," Comeau said. "I have to think of what I'm really doing here."
While Fund Board President Jim Gill and Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Donna Howell agreed communication among the group could have been better, Gill strongly rejected Kozatch's assertion that strategy was being discussed in secret.
"I will not accept the suggestion there was a group of us trying to keep this secret," Gill said. "There was no intent other than to get it resolved as quickly as possible."
School district officials learned early last week of legislation written by state Rep. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, that would prevent school districts from being able to accept revenue generated by another governmental entity, such as a city or county. Some people in Steamboat felt the legislation was directed at the city because of the district's stance against a Montessori charter school. King has denied any connection between the two.
School Board and Fund Board members, including Paula Stephenson, Pat Gleason and Michael Loomis, Gill and Howell discussed strategy for lobbying against the legislation before several of them traveled to Denver to meet with King and other lawmakers.
An e-mail was sent to district employees and Fund Board members about the legislation last week, Howell said. Kozatch said he didn't receive the e-mail until after the story appeared in the newspaper.
Gill said the only intention of the group that met to discuss strategies was to look after the interests of the Education Fund.
"I think we need to do a better job to keep the group in the loop," Howell said.