Del Norte School District
BEST grant/New School
Q. What will the new school look like, who gets to design the new school, has the new school already been designed?
A. In order to complete the BEST grant application, a committee was formed to come up with a preliminary design. The committee had several members, including school personnel, Board members, and community members. This drawing was only completed to use in the application, and is only an example of what we might do, if we received the grant. The actual building has not been designed. If we pass the bond, we will form a new committee, made up of school staff, community members, and students. This committee will be responsible for oversight of the design of the new school.
Q. Will kids be in one building?
A. This is not yet decided. It will depend on the final design derived from the construction committee process described above.
Q. Where will the building be located?
A. On and east of the current football field. Land has already been acquired.
Q. If the school got a grant, why is the school asking the community for money?
A. The BEST grant program requires that each school district community provide matching funds in order to complete the project. In the case of Del Norte, the community was required to provide 47% of the total cost. Because of a statutory requirement, we were able to reduce our match to 40%. If we want to accept the 27 million dollars in BEST grant funds, we must pass a bond to pay for the other 18 million dollars.
Q. What is the cost, per year, to the taxpayers in Del Norte?
A. The cost to residential property owners is about $108 per $100,000 of market value. Just like any other loan payment, the payment stays the same throughout the whole term of the Bond.
Q. Where does the 27 million dollars, given to us in the grant, come from?
A. The Colorado State Legislature created the BEST program for the express purpose of helping schools, who could otherwise not be able to afford it, to build new, safe, 21st Century schools. The money given to schools by BEST comes from State land lease revenues, marijuana excise taxes, and other non-tax sources. This money must be spent every year. The BEST board, each year, chooses which schools are the most needy, and provides the necessary funds to repair or rebuild those schools. The process is very competitive. The list of applicants is long, and the list of successful applicants is very short. If the “winning” schools cannot provide their matching funds, the grant money will go to the next person on the “losing” list.
Q. I hear this is a unique opportunity. Why?
A. The state is changing the way they manage the BEST Grant system. These changes will make future grant awards even more competitive and unpredictable. The fact that Del Norte has been awarded this year is an event that should be capitalized on by the community. Relying on obtaining a future grant is risky.
Q. What’s wrong with our current buildings?
A. Our current buildings are unsafe, have poor air quality, are out of date, lack code compliance, and are not appropriate or sufficient for educating students in 2017 and beyond. Much more specific detail can be found here: https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdefinance/CapConstAssessment
Under the Facility Insight section, click on the “Access the portal here” hyperlink, and follow it to the map of all school districts in Colorado. Find Rio Grande County, and click to see the Del Norte Schools. Please keep in mind that the BEST board and process changed our district FCI number from .52 to .70, which makes us the worst conditioned district currently on the FCI website.
Q. Why can’t we just refurbish our current buildings?
A. Based on our facility assessment, our current buildings would cost well over 30 million dollars to repair. This would still not fix the disjointed nature of the multiple buildings, and would not add anything new to our current facilities. Many of the problems in our buildings cannot be solved by repair. In addition, the BEST board will not fund our repairs, as it is clear that we need to replace our schools, not refurbish them. It would cost the Del Norte School District community almost two times more to repair or refurbish our schools.
Q. What happens to the old buildings?
A. There are a few possibilities for the future of our current buildings: As part of the grant application, we must remove all current buildings from the books of the school district. As part of the grant application, we had to put money in the budget to demolish every building. We can also sell or donate the buildings. A huge benefit to selling or donating the buildings is that we will get to keep and re-use the dollars currently earmarked for demolition. In addition, we get to help our community by providing buildings for use by local organizations.
Lastly, we can respectfully disassemble parts of our current buildings, for use in our new school building. It is important that we keep alive the rich history of Del Norte Schools by retaining the unique look of the Underwood Elementary, or the old Middle School, while constructing our new school.
Q. Is anyone interested in the old buildings?
A. The School Board has put out a request for Letters of Interest to the community. As of October 1, 2017, the Board has received two letters and others are expected. The Fire Department is interested in the Field House and Headstart is interested in the Mesa Building. By building a new school, we have the opportunity to solve multiple problems by making the old buildings available to entities that need them.