Auction items 

With Buffalo Commons in concert on June 5, the South Routt Endowment Fund seeks to increase funding for education

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

The show scheduled for 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 5 at the Slopeside Grill near the base of the Steamboat Resort will benefit the South Routt Education Endowment Fund. The fund was launched in 2011 and currently has around $300,000. The goal is to increase it to $1 million by 2030.

“It’s invested now,” said Russ Garrity, one of the people who started the fund. “Until we reach this goal, we cannot 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, professors, and local business owners — that would take applications and decide how to spend the interest that the fund earns every year.

This type of funding is especially important for districts like South Routt as they face increasingly depressed local property tax funding as Colorado shifts away from fossil fuel-generated power.

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 approximately 500 square miles.

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

“We have a really good school system, but it’s not an extremely wealthy community,” Garrity said. “The taxes we pay could benefit from a boost from an outside source. … We really want to do this outside of the tax system.

There is no specific dollar amount that Garrity hopes to raise on Sunday. Tickets for the event are available at prices ranging from $50 to $95. There is also a series of silent auction items already available for auctions that feature several South Routt activities, including dog sledding and horseback riding in the Flat Tops Mountains.

The Buffalo Commons Steamboat Band headlining a benefit concert at the Slopeside Grill on Sunday June 5th.
South Routt Education Endowment Fund / Courtesy

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

“We need to have more fairness and give our children the best we can, as we can,” Kraukramer said.

Peggy Barnes, another retired teacher from South Routt who helped start the fund, said she felt the effort was gaining momentum and people from other parts of the county were starting to notice their work.

She hopes this will help accelerate the pace of donations and get the fund past the million-dollar goal more quickly.

“We lost a lot of people from the coal mines and the railroads who were here,” Barnes said. “The tax base is certainly low for our area to support our school district. … I don’t want to lose more people. I don’t want to lose any more children. (South Routt’s education) is too important.

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