Steamboat Springs Two South Routt schools are one step closer to new heating and boiler systems after the Colorado Department of Education awarded the district $1.5 million in grants toward the projects.
The Colorado State Capital Construction Grants are contingent on the South Routt School District matching funds for the remaining 50 percent of the $3 million project, which will upgrade the coal-fired boiler systems at South Routt Elementary School in Yampa and Soroco High School and Middle School in Oak Creek.
Superintendent Kelly Reed said the 1950s-era boilers are unreliable and a cause of major indoor air quality issues from coal dust and soot in the school buildings.
"They have deteriorated to the point where we are spending an inordinate amount of time on maintaining the boilers," he said. "They went down in May. If they went down in the winter, we would have a crisis on our hands.
"These funds will provide the necessary capital to replace and upgrade our heating systems for the foreseeable future, while also providing a safer and cleaner environment for our students and staff."
Reed said the remaining $1.5 million to be used to install ground source heat pump systems would be raised if South Routt voters approve a construction bond on the November ballot.
"With the increase of property valuation over the past year, the current mill levy will provide for payment of the bonds without a mill increase," he said. "If voters choose not to approve the bonds, then we'll have to give the money back."
Reed said the district would salvage and fix the boilers if the ballot measure fails.
Additional funds could come from the Routt County Energy Impact Committee, which decided Tuesday that the district's need for a new heating system outweighed competing proposals for a $500,000 grant from the state's Energy and Mineral Impact Assistance Program.
Reed said the district will find out by early November if it is awarded the grant.
"If we get the additional $500,000, we'll use it to reduce the bond immediately," he said.