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Valley districts awarded 2013 BEST grants

Posted: Friday, Jun 14th, 2013

VALLEY — Creede, Moffat and South Conejos school districts now have state dollars in their corners to construct new buildings, but they won’t be spent unless school district voters approve a match this November.

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) Division of Capital Construction announced on Thursday the Moffat, Creede and South Conejos School Districts were selected for the 2013-2014 Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant cycle for brand new school buildings. This year, the lease-purchase grant program is assisting six public school districts with capital construction needs to “provide first class, high performing, 21st century facilities and help alleviate health and safety concerns throughout Colorado.”

In addition to the Valley school districts, Kim, Limon and Haxtun school districts also received grants.

The funding, however, is only available if the school districts can pass a mill levy for matching funds. Should the three district persuade their communities to buy in, a total of 11 Valley school districts will have received BEST awards since the program’s inception in 2008.

The Moffat School District is now eligible to receive $16,677,671 for a new LEED gold certified preschool through twelfth grade building. The state would provide $12,124,993 if the community is willing to foot $4,552,677.

According to the school district’s BEST application, “The campus layout is an everyday security concern, as staff members focus on moving their students through the building without incident... In short, the building’s layout compromises the safety and efficiency of the school, as disruptions are frequent and staff must allow time for circulation of the facility instead of instruction.”

This is the second BEST grant for the Moffat School District. This year, the new $5.7 million Crestone Charter School opened its doors, serving primarily the Crestone area.

The South Conejos School District is also planning a preschool through twelfth grade building. The state would furnish $14,082,672 if taxpayers will approve $5,477,745 this fall.

The recommendations for the school replacement is for the following reasons, according to the school district’s application: major liability risk attributable to health, safety, and welfare concerns, poor academic performance as a result of oppressive and outdated environments, repeated disciplinary infractions as a result of the facility’s configuration, accessibility issues and excessive and continual capital expenditures due to chronic maintenance issues and high utility costs.

The Creede School District is eyeing $16,146,158 for a new kindergarten through twelfth grade building. The state would contribute $8,683,253 if a $7,462,907 community match were secured to build on a new site.

In addition to this year’s Valley BEST recipients, the Mountain Valley School District and the North Conejos School District also applied for grants, but were not rewarded.

Mountain Valley applied for two grants. The first was for $20,286 with a match of $5,071 for a door rekey and the second for $105,710 with a match of $26,428 for a total gym bleacher replacement.

The North Conejos School District requested $175,560 with a match of $9,240 for high school restroom ADA upgrades and renovations.

CDE received 63 qualifying grant applications for BEST funds from school districts and charter schools, according to a press release. Three applicants withdrew, leaving 60 applications for consideration. The total grant amounts requested were $227.7 million in state funds and $80.3 million in matching funds for a total of $308 million in total project costs. Of these, 24 cash grants were recommended, totaling $15.7 million, six lease-purchase grants totaling $94.7 million and two back-up lease-purchase grants totaling $47.7 million.

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