Superintendent answers questions on BEST grant

SAGUACHE — Mountain Valley School is quickly moving toward the November election that will decide if voters will approve a ballot measure authorizing a $27 million Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant to build a new PreK-12 school.
In recent comments about the ballot measure at the Fall Festival over the weekend, residents observed that if economic growth is to be realized in the town it must go hand in hand with a larger school to accommodate new residents with school-age children seeking jobs. The school district has already seen an influx of new students with the growth of the marijuana industry.
Others pointed out that in order to implement vocational training and apprenticeships hoped for in the Valley, the schools would be the logical place to recruit trainees and conduct at least the initial phases of such training. As those attending BEST grant meetings have observed, towns without schools are not likely to succeed economically, and the BEST grant is likely to be the only funding available without placing an economic burden on the county.
Below, Superintendent Travis Garoutte answers frequently asked questions about the new school project in a column written bi-monthly for the school’s website.
“There have been a lot of great questions during this process, and I want to take some time to answer [them],” Garoutte said. “My hope is that our residents will have all of the information they need to make the best decision possible for our students, families, and community.”
What is the BEST program?
Building Excellent Schools Today legislation was passed in the spring of 2007 for the purpose of assisting school districts with low property values in upgrading facilities to a minimum standard of safety and functionality. Without this BEST funding, low property value school districts, like Mountain Valley School District, would never be able to build safe and modern school facilities for our students, families, and community.
How much will the proposed new school cost?
The total cost of a new PreK-12 school facility presented in the Mountain Valley School BEST Grant proposal was just under $31 million dollars. Last May, Mountain Valley School District was awarded a $27 million BEST Grant. To receive this BEST Grant, it will be necessary for district residents to “match” about $3.7 million of this cost (about 12 percent) by approving a bond during the 2017 election. The State of Colorado will be providing 88 percent of the approved BEST project funding costs.
What would it cost to simply renovate our current facilities at mountain valley school district?
A 2009 facilities assessment by the Colorado Department of Education found almost $17 million worth of needed repairs at Mountain Valley School District. Since that time, ›conditions at the school have only deteriorated while costs have escalated. With a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million, Mountain Valley School can never repair the existing problems without funding assistance. Due to the current condition of our facilities and cost to renovate, remodeling was never a feasible option. The Colorado Department of Education’s Capital Construction Board ranked Mountain Valley’s new school construction project as the highest need in the state of Colorado and awarded a $27 million BEST Grant to build a new state-of-the-art school facility for our community.
Will we keep any of the buildings we already have?
The Mountain Valley School District Facilities Action Plan allows the Middle School building to be repurposed as a Transportation and Maintenance facility.
How disruptive will the
construction process be to the education process?
The Mountain Valley School District Facilities Action Plan shows that the new school will be built and opened before vacating the old buildings.
Why is it so important to do this now? Are current buildings no longer safe?
During the 2017 BEST Grant application process, Mountain Valley School District was the top-ranked school in the state needing new educational facilities. Our buildings currently exhibit numerous safety, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and roofing issues, as well as other urgent needs. In addition, there is only a limited amount of BEST funding available for projects like the one Mountain Valley School District has been awarded. This could be a once-in-a-lifetime funding opportunity to provide a much-needed new PreK-12 facility for our students, families, and community.
With a bonding capacity of only $3.7 million, our district will never be able to improve our facilities situation and provide both today’s and tomorrow’s students with the safe and modern facilities they deserve. This $27 million BEST Grant funding opportunity may never be offered to Mountain Valley School again. Moffat, Creede, Sanford, South Conejos, Sargent, Center, Alamosa, Monte Vista, Sangre De Cristo and Centennial schools have already built new and modern facilities with BEST funding.
How much will the new schoo cost me as a taxpayer if I own a house or residential property in the district?
• If your property’s assessed value is $25,000, your tax impact will be about $2.34 per month or $28.02 per year.
• If your property’s assessed value is $50,000, your tax impact will be about $4.67 per month or $56.04 per year.
• If your property’s assessed value is $75,000, your tax impact will be about $7.00 per month or $84.06 per year.
• If your property’s assessed value is $100,000, your tax impact will be about $9.34 per month or $112.08 per year.
How much will the new school cost me as a taxpayer if I own commercial or agriculture property in the district?
For business and agricultural owners, the tax impact for every $100,000 of assessed commercial or agricultural property will be about $37.36 per month or $448.32 per year.
What happens if voters do not approve the 2017 bond during the Nov. 7, 2017 election?
If the November 2017 bond fails, the $27 million BEST Grant awarded to Mountain Valley School District reverts back to the State of Colorado to be distributed to another school district that is willing to meet its BEST Grant match requirement. The first district in line to receive this money if we fail to pass our 2017 Bond is Mancos School District, which has already been selected by the BEST Grant Board as an alternate project should any project ahead of them fail to provide their match this November. If the bond fails, Mountain Valley School District will not have the necessary funding to address current safety issues and failing systems. BEST Grant funding is dwindling, and there is no guarantee that state funding will ever be available again to help our school.
If you still have questions or need more information regarding the BEST Grant, please contact me at 719-655-0268. I would be happy to schedule a time to meet and tour our school. 

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