DEL NORTE— According to Colorado Department of Education press release, a total of $295.6 million in school grant project was recently awarded which includes the Del Norte School District.
This is the second time the school has applied for the grant, the first of which was unsuccessful. In a May meeting, school Superintendent Chris Burr explained that “The school district applied for the BEST program several years ago only to be denied due to the fact that when filling out the application, the former superintendent failed to emphasize that the school would be willing to demolish the other exiting buildings to make room for the new building.” The application was denied through the BEST grant and resubmitted by Burr in February of this year.
According to Burr, the district was awarded just over $27 million to help with costs associated with the estimated $45 million project. The next step for the district is to pass a bond through the town of Del Norte in November for the remaining $18 million. Burr stressed that the issue with most of the residents that will be affected by the bond is the length of time the tax will be increased in the town. “What most people don’t understand is that there is a difference between passing a bond which will be complete in about 20 years compared to a mill levy that could take longer to pay,” said Burr.
The Del Norte School Board will host several community meetings in the near future to help answer questions and prepare the community for the bond election that will take place in November. Burr stated that the board will be looking for and reviewing potential companies to serve as the district’s owner representative, who serves as a non-affiliated general contractor that serves to protect the best interests of the district where the school will be built. “We will not move forward with anything else until the bond is passed. The BEST grant will not issue any funding for the project until the election takes place in November,” continued Burr.
Burr continued, explaining that most of the Colorado school districts that have received BEST funding for their projects ended up paying more of a percentage than the proposed 47 percent that the Del Norte district is expected to pay. “Now is the time to do this. If we wait any longer, our percentage of matching funds will increase. If we do it now we could potentially get an additional seven percent less than the proposed 47 percent match,” explained Burr.
If the bond is passed, the board will then place the project out on bid and work to select a contracting company in the fall after school is in session. Once the contracting company is selected and if all goes well, Burr hopes to see the project break ground by late April or early May of next year.
The Colorado Board of Education awarded a total of $300 million to Colorado school districts for various remodeling and new school projects across the state.