Steamboat Springs schools eye grant funding for 2018 | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs schools eye grant funding for 2018

Director of Maintenance, Operations and Transportation Pascal Ginesta shows an area of worn cement outside Strawberry Park Elementary in August 2015 which is out of compliance with state and federal codes. New sidewalks, new parking lot pavement and paved fire access around the school are part of the district's long list of needed capital improvements.

— The Steamboat Springs School District doesn't have the lead time this year to pursue a grant program to help fund capital projects, but staff hopes to pursue the program in 2018.

On Monday, the Board of Education learned more from district staff about the Building Excellent Schools Today, or BEST, program, which offers matching grants for Colorado school districts pursuing new school construction and deferred maintenance.

The next annual grant deadline is in mid-February, and districts that apply are required to provide supporting information — such a professional roof assessment in the scenario of a grant for a new roof — making the deadline unrealistic for the Steamboat district by next month.

"It's a little different than our normal, run-of-the-mill, CDE (Colorado Department of Education) grant," said Karla Setter, district grant writer.

The board discussed the possibility of applying for the BEST program last week at the suggestion of board member Roger Good, who also sits on the Colorado Department of Education's Capital Construction Assistance Board, which administers the BEST grant.

Under the program, the district could apply for a grant at an 80-20 match, with the district providing 80 percent of the funds for a project and the BEST program potentially granting 20 percent.

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In 2018, the district can apply for the grant and potentially use money from a November 2017 tax initiative to provide the district's portion of the match.

BEST funding has been used in the past for small projects within the Steamboat Springs School District and to fund the construction of a secure entrance at Yampa Elementary in South Routt.

A $3.2 million BEST grant was awarded to North Routt Community Charter School in 2010 to help fund construction of the school, and, in December, the Hayden School District shared its interest in applying for the money to help fund a new facility.

The competitive grant program is funded primarily by state land trust funds and, in a small part, by marijuana tax revenue and lottery spillover funds.

In 2016, about $156 million was available in BEST funds for Colorado schools.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow