Colorado School Districts Waiting on BEST Funding

DENVER — Colorado school districts are currently waiting for state construction dollars from the state Capital Construction Assistance Board. The CCAB ends its meetings Friday, June 29 and will decide the winners of the 2012-13 grants from the Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program.

BEST has been a significant source of school construction funding since its creation in 2008 by the Colorado state legislature. The program is funded by a share of revenues from state school trust lands and a smaller amount of Colorado Lottery revenues.

The grants have helped many schools get the funding they need for projects that range from building schools, campus renovations and maintenance issues.

This year there are 48 districts, 12 charter schools, one board of cooperative educational services and the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, requesting state funding. The requests seek a total of $297.7 million in state funding and promise $142.1 million in local matching funds.

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The board will decide which schools are the most in need and deserving of the grant funding — but as of now they haven’t decided how much state money they will commit to. Reports from EdNews Colorado say the funds could be as low as $130 million, which could leave many districts without any BEST funding.

BEST grants have helped fund schools from districts across Colorado, but its main focus is on funding for rural areas that often times have outdated facilities and are in need of serious repairs but lack the necessary monetary means. The BEST 2011-12 fiscal year report showed rural areas received 38 percent of BEST grant funding while urban-suburban areas received 14 percent.

As of January 2012, BEST has provided over $674 million in grants out of approximately $1.7 billion requested by districts. Those grants have helped fund 237 projects and 147 schools across the state.

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