DENVER — The Colorado State Board of Education at its regular June board meeting on Thursday approved Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant awards for Del Norte and Mountain Valley Schools.
Mountain Valley requested $27 million in BEST funding to replace the PK-12 school in Saguache, with $3.7 million anticipated in local match towards the $30.7 million project.
Del Norte also requested $27 million but anticipates a larger local match of nearly $18 million towards the $45 million project to replace existing school buildings with one building for all grade levels.
The BEST funding is dependent on successful bond elections to provide the local matching contribution.
The state board approved $295.6 million in BEST grants for 28 school construction projects across the state. Approximately, $70 million of that amount is from cash grants, $123.1 million is from lease-purchase grants, and $102.5 million is from matching contributions. Both of the San Luis Valley projects are recommended for lease-purchase grants.
Last year’s total allocation was $161 million with $60 million from cash grants. This year's higher amount is due to an increase in state borrowing authority that allowed the state’s Capital Construction Assistance Board to consider lease-purchase grants, which are typically used to fund larger projects. These grants are financed, and financing is repaid with future assistance fund revenues.
The breakdown on the Valley projects is:
Mountain Valley RE-1 PK-12 replacement
$3,724,699 applicant contribution
$30,796,951 total request/matching contribution
The Colorado Department of Education’s Capital Construction Assistance Board (CCAB) recommended the BEST grant approval following Mountain Valley Superintendent Travis Garoutte’s presentation to that board. Garoutte focused his presentation on the needs of the failing school and also on the needs of the students, families, and community.
Following the presentation, the CCAB ranked Mountain Valley’s new school application, based on severity of needs, as the highest in the state.
In addition to replacing a structure in unsatisfactory condition, the new school is proposed to be energy efficient and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certified.
New PK-12 school in Del Norte C-7 Consolidated
$17,913,517 applicant contribution
$45,082,105 total request/matching contribution
Del Norte School District identified several issues and hazards in its multiple buildings, one of which was built in 1942. In addition to safety concerns within the buildings, the district had concerns about safety between the buildings, as teachers, students and the public have to cross busy streets between the separate school buildings.
In its application for BEST funding, the Del Norte school district also cited problems such as ADA noncompliance, asbestos, leaks, mold, mechanical, plumbing and electrical system problems, unsecured entries, lighting and other concerns.
The application stated, “The Del Norte School District does not provide one well designed, modern, technology efficient, safe and secure classroom, gathering space or building. Our children and community are suffering the consequences of these poor conditions and expect that the district will find a solution.”
Del Norte school district proposes one new facility on 12.3 acres. The single campus is proposed to encompass 110,000 square feet and will house all 500 students.