North Routt Community Charter School reapplies for grant

Funding would help pay to build new facility at school

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— The North Routt Community Charter School has reapplied for the state grant that was rescinded earlier this year and would help fund construction of a new school, Director Colleen Poole said.

The Public School Capital Construction Assistance Board previously awarded a $3.1 million Building Excellent Schools Today grant to the charter school to build a new school facility. It was rescinded earlier this year because the charter school failed to raise the 35 percent match — about $1.7 million — required by the grant.

About $700,000 was raised through other grants, and the remainder was secured with a bank loan, which the Capital Construction Assistance Board was concerned the charter school would have difficulty paying back, said Ted Hughes, director of the Capital Construction Assistance program.

Poole said the total cost of the project, as submitted in the new grant application April 9, is nearly $3.8 million. It includes an additional 5 percent grant reserve that brings the total to almost $4 million. Hughes said the 5 percent grant reserve is required on new construction projects to address “unforeseen” costs that could arise during the building process.

The BEST grant still requires that 35 percent match, which means the charter school would need to raise about $1.4 million. The remainder, about $2.6 million, would be covered by the grant. Poole said the charter school has requested a waiver that would reduce the match to 20 percent, or about $800,000, with the rest being paid by the grant. She said the charter school is close to having that 20 percent match funding in place.

Last month, the Steamboat Springs School Board approved providing $100,000 toward the cost of the new facility. The funds, which would come from the district’s capital reserve fund and can be used only on capital projects, are contingent on the charter school being approved for the BEST grant.

Despite the decreased total cost to build the new facility, Poole said the plans have not changed.

She said they include construction of a 12,600-square-foot facility that would replace the existing three charter school buildings totaling 3,400 square feet on Routt County Road 62 in Clark. The new facility also is intended to be Leadership in Energy and Environment Design gold-certified, Poole said.

It would be located about a quarter-mile north of the current charter school and on the same site as the North Routt Preschool — land the charter school is negotiating to acquire. The new facility also would double as a community center during nonschool hours.

Hughes said because the charter school previously was approved for BEST grant funding, its new application would be among the first applications up for discussion when the Capital Construction Assis­tance Board meets June 29 and 30. However, he added that doesn’t mean the charter school’s application is a higher priority than any other application.

At those meetings, Hughes said the Capital Construction Assistance Board would review and recommend projects to the state Board of Education for approval. He said the state board would consider the projects in August.

If approved, Poole said construction of the new facility would begin after the funds are disbursed in spring 2011.

“I think we’re very hopeful that we’ll get the funding so we’ll get our school built because it’s definitely needed in the community,” she said. “Not just the school, but the community center, as well.”

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