School Funding

Marijuana-funded construction grants include new school for Manitou Springs – with a hitch | Colorado Springs News


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Of the 41 school construction projects approved by the Colorado State Board of Education on Wednesday – funded in part by the marijuana excise taxes on retail sales – seven have been awarded to school districts in the Pikes Peak area. .

The proposals include a commitment of nearly $ 23.5 million to renovate the high school and build a new middle school in Manitou Springs – but the plan will require voters’ approval of a bail measure in the November ballot to continue .

The state-run Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, grant program requires districts to provide 65 percent of construction costs against local funds.

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The state’s decision to cut funding to schools as part of what is known as the Fiscal Stabilization Factor has resulted in a loss of funding of $ 16 million over the past 11 years for School District 14 of Manitou Springs, said Superintendent Elizabeth Domangue.

“Given the way school funding works in Colorado, we just don’t have the money in our budget to sort out all of our facilities issues or provide the required correspondence without our constituents approving a bail, ”she said.

The amount of a bond initiative will be set at the Education Council meeting on June 21, Domangue said.

Competitive BEST grants approved this week by the state’s highest public education governing body total nearly $ 623 million for schools in the state.

The Capital Construction Assistance Fund, established in 2008 as a branch of the Colorado Department of Education, will provide approximately $ 297 million in money, and $ 146 million represents Colorado State revenue. Land Board, excise taxes on marijuana, the Colorado lottery and interest on the fund.

Locally, Widefield School District 3 received two grants: $ 767,000 to remove asbestos and renovate Watson Junior High School, and a $ 568,000 boiler replacement at two elementary schools and one college.

Lewis-Palmer D-38 at Monument will replace his college’s boiler, $ 1.5 million project, Cripple Creek-Victor RE-1 will perform $ 29,500 in safety and security upgrades to scale District, and Colorado Springs School District 11 will replace the roof at Palmer High, at a cost of $ 3.6 million.

The state also awarded D-11 one of 24 emergency grant applications to address ventilation and filtration issues related to COVID-19. D-11 will replace the HVAC system at Bristol Elementary, a $ 1.1 million project.

In total, applicants will contribute approximately $ 262 million in matching funds.

Manitou D-14 is to provide around $ 15.2 million for the renovation of the high school and the new college for its part, with the state contributing $ 8.2 million.

The current college building will be kept for administrative offices, community program spaces, STEM learning and athletics, Domangue said.

D-14 also received a BEST grant of almost $ 2 million to replace the roofs of its two elementary schools and improve the entrance halls while retaining the historic qualities of the buildings. The expected contribution from the district is nearly $ 1.3 million.

This is the first time that D-14 has applied for a BEST grant, Domangue said.

The proposed projects come as the district prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the district and the 100th anniversary of the opening of Manitou Springs Elementary School next year.

“BEST funding is essential to ensure that the state of our schools provides the experiences our students deserve,” said Domangue. “This funding and the entire bond package will be used to restore the school district’s facilities to honor their history and continue their legacy.”

A bail measure would also pay for improvements, safety improvements, and educational upgrades at each of D-14’s four schools; projects to add equipment accessible to the entire community; and improving outdoor facilities for learning, sports training and play.

The most recent renovations to the school were completed in 1988 and 2002, Domangue said, and 2002 election bonds have been repaid.

Manitou Springs voters approved a $ 1.8 million mill fee waiver in 2015, adding 3 mills to help offset state budget cuts.

The district identified new capital construction projects during a six-month master planning process that involved everyone from senior leaders to students and the community.

Contact the writer: 719-476-1656.

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