Lake County School District Will Ask Voters to Fund $13.9M Bond to Receive $20.8M BEST Grant
August 27, 2019—On Tuesday, the Lake County School District (LCSD) Board of Education unanimously voted to refer a $13.9M bond measure to the 2019 November ballot that, if approved, will allow the district to receive a $20.8M Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) grant. The $20.8M BEST grant would provide 60% of the funding needed to replace the West Park Elementary School facility with a new building to house LCSD’s Preschool–Grade 2 students. LCSD’s preschool program is currently housed at Pitts Elementary. To raise the $13.9M in matching funds required to receive the BEST grant, the LCSD Board of Education is seeking passage of a bond measure on the November 2019 ballot.
The cost to taxpayers for the $13.9M bond is expected to be $6.25 per month ($75 per year) for a $250,000 residential property (the median home value in Leadville according to Zillow). Commercial property owners will pay an estimated additional $10 per month ($120 per year) per $100,000 of commercial property. Without taxpayer support to generate the matching funds through a bond, the BEST grant will go to another district.
“We strongly believe that the physical buildings where our community’s children spend the majority of their days must positively support their learning, development, and physical and emotional health,” said LCSD School Board President Amy Frykholm. “We are excited to move toward a future in which all of our facilities offer physical environments that match and enhance our students’ enthusiasm for learning, not to mention roofs designed to handle the snow and reliable HVAC systems.”
The Preschool–Grade 2 project was prioritized as a part of LCSD’s 2019 master planning process, managed by the school district with input from the Community Visioning Team and the broader Lake County community. The two school facilities that currently serve LCSD’s Preschool–Grade 2 students (the West Park and Pitts Elementary School facilities) are ranked among the top 10 poorest-condition schools in the state by the Colorado Department of Education.
“Repairing two aging facilities or rebuilding one of those facilities to serve all Preschool–Grade 2 students costs about the same,” Frykholm said. “However, when you factor in long-term cost savings (e.g., utilities) and the benefits of a new building that will serve the community for generations to come, the advantages of rebuilding over repairing are clear.”
If approved by voters, a Design Advisory Group will form this fall to work with the community to identify the features desired in a new building. A new Preschool–Grade 2 school could open in LCSD as soon as the 2021–2022 school year.
Community tours will be offered; announcement of the schedule will be forthcoming. To learn more about the district’s 2019 Facility Master Plan and the new PK–2 school project, please visit https://www.lakecountyschools.net/our-next-chapter/.
About Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST)
BEST is a competitive grant that provides financial assistance to school districts for the construction or renovation of new or existing public schools. It is funded by revenue from the State Land Trust, lottery proceeds, marijuana excise taxes, matching grant funds, and interest on monies in the Assistance Fund.
Lake County High School (serving students in grades 7–12) was fully renovated with the support of a $15.1M BEST grant and the generosity of LCSD residents, who provided $11.0 M in matching funds through a successful bond measure in 2011.