Bayfield School District representatives will be in Denver on May 24 to make their presentation on why the district should get an $8.57 million BEST grant to help pay for around $39 million of new school construction and elementary school renovation.
The Colorado Department of Education has around $80 million available for BEST grants this year, and around $123 million in funding requests from districts around the state, Superintendent Troy Zabel told the school board Tuesday evening. Notes and comments so far from BEST staff have been favorable to Bayfield's request, he said. The district sent in extensive documentation earlier this year on the construction plans and the need for the construction, namely to get kindergarteners and first graders out of the old primary school on South Street.
Zabel, Finance Director Amy Lyons, project owner's representative Marty Zwisler, and representatives from project contractor FCI and Chamberlin Architects will be in Denver. They get around two minutes for their formal presentation to the BEST board, Zabel said, then there could be a half hour of questions and answers.
Grant applications are scored on a point system. Districts showing the most need get funding until the money runs out, Zwisler told the school board back in February. Safety hazards, health concerns, and security issues get the top priority, he said. "We nailed it there. Next is over-crowding, moving from temporary (i.e. modulars) to permanent facilities. We're doing that as well. Third is more technology in the schools. Our focus is on those top priorities."
The district should get notification in early June on whether the grant is approved. The district will seek voter approval in November for a bond issue of around $30 million if the BEST grant is approved.
Twelve community members attended a district presentation Monday evening soliciting volunteers for a committee that will rally support for the bond issue. Zabel said there will be another meeting in June once the district knows about the grant.
The district wants to build a new school for grades 3-5 on 40 acres just south of the middle school, and do extensive renovation and additions at the elementary school to serve grades K-2.
The district is in the process of annexing the 40 acres into the town. As part of the annexation, the district will have to improve the Mountain View/Lakeview Drive intersection, a section of East Oak Drive, and the Sossaman/County Road 501 intersection, and contribute $500,000 toward the cost of a new signalized access onto Highway 160 at the east edge of town. The district will have to provide an easement through the 40 acres for a future street connection to the new highway access.
Zabel reported Tuesday that an amended traffic impact study had been submitted to the town, but the town hadn't responded by then.