On October 13, mail ballots will be sent to registered voters in Moffat School District #2, (which includes Crestone/Baca area, Moffat, and some surrounding areas). The sole ballot question asks registered voters to support a bond issue for a 12% match on the grant awarded to the Crestone Charter School for building a new school facility. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) under their school facilities’ grant program called Building Excellent Schools Today (B.E.S.T) authorized $6,054,325 for this project.
In May of 2008, the Colorado Legislature passed HB08-1335—the B.E.S.T. bill. This legislation authorized CDE to leverage income from the School Land trust to fund over $500 million in capital construction for the State’s school buildings.
In February of this year, the Crestone Charter School put together a detailed Masterplan and application for this B.E.S.T. grant (visit www.thecrestonecharterschool.org to view the full masterplan). In July 2009, the B.E.S.T. governing board recommended that CCS be awarded $6,054,325 contingent upon a 12% match from the community.
The B.E.S.T. grant will provide $5,327,806 and the 12% match comes to $726,519. If the ballot measure fails, CCS will not be able to raise the match and the grant will be forfeited. “This is a rare opportunity for CCS and the District to leverage their match over 8 times”, said Kathryn Brady, Director of the Charter School.
What the bond will cost
The $726,519 matching bond will result in a residential tax increase of $1.66/month per $100,000 of property value and a commercial/agricultural tax impact of $6.06/month per $100,000 of property
value. After 20 years the property tax will sunset.
For this investment, the community will be drawing in over 8 times the amount in grant funding. Longtime Crestone resident Steve Haines says “These funds will boost our local economy and provide us with a long lasting sustainable school building and community asset.”
Why CCS thinks a new school is necessary
For over 15 years the Crestone Charter School has operated out of rented modular buildings. The CDE and the B.E.S.T. board have stipulated that temporary buildings raise health and safety concerns for students and would be given a high priority when considering grants.
Several of the CCS modulars are over thirty years old and are showing signs of dry rot and mold infestation. Many of the windows are inoperable. The HVAC and plumbing systems are outdated, as well. Poor lighting and air quality compromise the learning environment and the health of the children.
According to CCS Director Brady, “the current school facility also lacks adequate space for multi-age classrooms as well as several other amenities found in most schools.” These include: assembly/performance space, exercise space, standard science lab, adequate storage and closets, office space, administrative reception area, as well as private rooms for counseling, special education and faculty planning.
What does it include?
The new school will be designed to accommodate 75 students (K-12) over several decades. This 50-100 year building will include safe, healthy classrooms for the students as well as the other amenities that make up a functional modern school. A 2500 sq. ft. performance/gathering space will be a strong feature of the new facility. CCS is excited to be able to share this space with the community for gatherings, fundraisers, community meetings and performances.
The total project amount for this new facility takes into account architectural design, land purchase and utility infrastructure in addition to the actual construction costs. It is also slated to include all the technology, equipment, and furniture that is required for an up-to-date school.
High quality environmentally responsible materials and sustainable technologies are also factored into the construction budget. These choices will cost more than their conventional counterparts at first, but will support a sustainable design that is much more affordable to maintain over time, says CCS. The school will be seeking a Gold Certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
This grant is intended only for the building of a new school. It will not be allocated to operating funds, teacher’s salaries or any other school related expenses.
Benefit to Moffat
Residents of Moffat School District will benefit from the rise in property values that naturally will come with a new school that attracts young residents. The entire District and community will benefit from the economic activity generated by the new construction. The operating costs of the new school will in no way negatively affect operations at Moffat School District.
Ms. Brady explains “As a District of educational choice it is imperative to maintain the health and vitality of both our schools. Careful attention was paid to the size and scale of the Charter School in the masterplanning process to ensure that it will never be a facility that will outsize the Moffat School District. It is designed to hold 75 students. After-school options, theatre performances and extra curricular activities are easily shared between students of the two schools as well as the opportunity to use the construction and design of a sustainable school as an ongoing teaching opportunity.”
What’s next? The upcoming election
The future of this project is now in the hands of the voters. A positive vote will allow the grant to be awarded and the building project to begin.
If you are not registered and would like to participate in this election you need to be registered to vote by 4pm on Oct. 5 at the Saguache County Courthouse. Polls close at 7pm on Nov. 3, and ballots must be received at the courthouse by that time.