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Schaffer gets funds for Estes Park schools
Money in the bank: schools get grant
Park R-3 awarded $1.2 million CDE grant Thursday
By John Cordsen, Estes Park Trail Gazette September 16, 2006
High school renovation plans received a shot in the arm Thursday when the State Board of Education awarded the district a $1.2 million grant.
The grant targets three primary areas at the high school; the science labs an elevator and roof repair. District staff Karen Glassman, Tony Paglia and high school science faculty – Mary Ann Varanka Martin, Jeff Klipstein, Ron Paoletti and Gary Stark applied for the “CDE Capital Construction Grant” in May, 2006.
Former U.S. Congressman and current Colorado State Board of Education 4th Congressional District representative Bob Schaffer toured the high school Tuesday to get a first-hand look at the needs.
“The need was obvious,” said Schaffer. “These grant applications go through an extensive review process. The preliminary review board has high standards to clear. It is a testimony to professionalism of the district in putting forth a comprehensive proposal. Clearly, the Estes Park district accomplished this.”
Schaffer said the grant application “sailed through” the final vote with unanimous approval.
School officials say the $1.2 million state grant (out of $5 million available for the entire state) will be used to reduce the bond size from $22.4 million to $21.2 million. This will reduce the annual debt service cost of the bonds issued and save the taxpayers money.
“The timing of the award was such that notification comes after the date (Sept. 7) that the board of education was required to set the ballot question,” said Linda Chapman, superintendent of schools. “Had the district known before the question was set on Sept. 6, the bond issue would have been for $21.2 rather than the $22.4 million that the ballot question will indicate.”
The district is required to contribute $300,000 matching funds to complete the work outlined in the grant.
“The bond, if it passes, will cover this cost,” said Chapman. “If the bond issue fails, the district will allocate $300,000 (almost the entire capital budget,) from its 2007-08 capital expenses to cover the required match.”
Projects outlined in the grant application are:
1. Replace a portion of the high school roof that will ultimately cause structural damage to the building - $107,000
2. Renovate high school science rooms/labs - $778,119
3. Replace and upgrade high school fire alarm system - $60,000
4. Install new ventilation system in high school art room and technology lab - $12,000
5. Add an elevator to the high school for access to all three floors - $370,000
6. Design and contingency - $187,712
Total cost of projects: $1,514,831
District match required: $300,000
Total amount of grant: $1,214,831
The funds for the grant are the result of a Nov. 7, 2000 vote by Colorado voters, which approved Referendum E allowing the Colorado Lottery to participate in multi-state lottery games and the use of spillover funds for school capital construction. The Powerball spillover funding became additional funding for the Capital Construction Expenditures Reserve. The law provided the State Board of Education the authority to grant projects from this reserve.
Officials say most of the high school science areas needs will be met with the grant. Upgrades will be made to the plumbing, electrical and gas fixtures. A double-sided fume hood, casework, lab stations, teacher demonstration area, outside access for doors from labs, hard surface flooring, safety showers and eye wash stations, and new ceiling materials are also included. Items not included are replacement of windows, some finishes and equipment needs.
“The high school labs and science rooms would be completely remodeled,” said Chapman. “None of the middle school science rooms or other high school or district-wide needs included in the bond issue will be covered by the grant. The intended use of this particular grant (from Colorado ’s “Lotto” funds) is for the state’s most severe capital needs, and both the middle and high schools have several, which qualify by definition.”
Officials say the district will continue pursuing other such forms of funding to augment tax dollars for education.
“The board and administration are committed to looking for alternative funding sources, and in receiving this grant we have made a positive step in that direction,” said Chapman. “Recognizing the need for additional funding vehicles, the district hired Karen Glassman in June of 2005 as a grant writer, and this has turned out to be a very good investment in the financial health of the district.”
Officials say that while the grant is a positive for the district, it is but one piece in the overall master plan for building renovations.
“The passage of the bond issue is still very important to the district, and we are thrilled at the opportunity to lower the cost to the taxpayers by approximately five percent by not issuing $1.2 million worth of bonds if and when the election passes,” said Chapman.
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