Building grant deadline imminent for Mancos schools

Grant would be part of $22 million campus improvements

Mancos Schools officials are putting finishing touches on the district’s application for a Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant, which is due to the Colorado Department of Education by Feb. 24, grant writer Clara Martinez told school board members at their meeting Monday.

Securing the grant is a key piece in the district’s $22 million master plan for Mancos school campus upgrades. The district also will ask voters to approve a bond measure later this fall.

The master plan includes comprehensive upgrades to all the buildings on the campus, including restoring the historic gym and remodeling the performance center.

If it all comes to fruition, board members and school officials said they expect the upgrades to last for at least the next 30 years.

“We’re building for the future,” board member Tim Hunter said.

For most BEST grants, the school district provides 46 percent of the funding while CDE provides a 54 percent matching portion. Superintendent Brian Hanson said it is likely the district will ask CDE to provide around 65 percent of the funding, with local taxpayers providing the other portion through a bond issue.

Hanson said the district is on the list for a November bond through Denver firm George K. Baum and Co., a finance group that provides underwriting services for municipal bonds.

In addition to the BEST grant and bond issue, the district will pursue a Safe Routes to School grant and a School Yard Initiative and Local Park and Outdoor Recreation grant from Great Outdoors Colorado.

The park and outdoor recreation grant would be used to improve the athletic fields on campus. The School Yard Initiative grant would be used to build a new playground, and the Safe Routes to School grant would be used to create a new bus drop-off area.

Also at the meeting, Hanson reported that a proposed budget for San Juan BOCES included a $14,000 contribution from the Mancos School District, which is a significant increase from the previous amount the district contributed. BOCES provides services to students in southwest Colorado school districts such as special education instruction and speech therapy.

The Durango 9-R school district dropped out of San Juan BOCES last year, and Hanson said superintendents of the other districts were told 9-R’s departure would not have a financial impact on other districts.

“It caught us off guard,” Hanson said of the budget increase.

The increase in cost was administration-related, not service-related, he said.